San Jose Parade Honors Hot Dog Champ Matt Stonie, World’s No. 1 Competitive Eater

Matt Stonie ate 62 hot dogs on July 4 earning him the ranking of No. 1 competitive eater in the world. And for this, he deserves to “RELISH” in glory with a downtown San Jose parade on Friday to celebrate his gobbling of franks, the parade's hosts posted on Facebook.

LIVE 105 KITS San Francisco radio organizers are hosting the parade at 2 p.m. at the corner of San Pedro and St. John streets in San Pedro Square.

The 23-year-old Stonie, who likes to be called “The Megatoad,” beat reigning champion Joey “Jaws” Chestnut, who also is from San Jose, during the annual July 4 international hot dog eating contest held at Coney Island. Major League Eaters now has Stonie ranked as the No. 1 competitive eater in the world, and Chestnut as No. 2.

Chestnut had won this annual – and bizarre – contest for the last eight years. Afterward, Chestnut smiled in defeat and told the media that he had been "looking for competition" and "I finally have it."

“It’s really unexpected, this last-minute parade,” Stonie told NBC Bay Area on Friday before the parade.

As for how Stonie embarked on what he calls a career: “It’s one of those freak things that happened,” he said.

He started as an junior at Evergreen Valley High School in San Jose, when he signed up for a 5-pound burrito-eating contest at Iguana’s “Home of the BurritoZilla” near his grandparents’ house. He won and pocketed $1,000.

And he’s been speed-eating ever since, from slug burgers to pumpkin pie, pepperoni rolls to birthday cake, and from bacon to hot dogs. In fact, he’s been doing so well, financially speaking, too, that he is taking a break from studying biochemistry at Mission College in Santa Clara.

At first, he said, his parents were skeptical of him downing 20,000 calories at a time. But now, he said, they see that he’s making money and being flown across the world – including for a TV stint in Korea. “Sometimes now, they help me cook up hot dogs,” he said.

Competitive eating isn’t for everyone, and it’s not easy, Stonie added.

“The first few years were miserable,” he said. “I was bloated, had fatigue.”

But he added that he’s figured out how to “fine tune my regimen” by balancing exercise, fasting and taking lots of vitamins and minerals.

As for him and Chestnut, Stonie said they are far from best friends but they do hang out occasionally. That the No. 1 and No. 2 competitors in the world both hail from San Jose, might not be so unusual, he said. 

“Living in California, people think a little differently,” he said. “We go for what’s outside the box.”

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