Best States for Competitive Eating in 2023
Competitive eating is an activity in which participants compete against each other to eat large quantities of food, usually in a short period. Competitive eating is most popular in the United States, Canada, and Japan, where organized, professional eating contests often offer prizes, including cash.
While this may all sound appealing to most foodies, it is fair to say the world of competitive eating isn’t for the faint of heart.
One thing for sure is that many can’t deny it is entertaining to watch and the numbers back that up. The Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest attracts over 40,000 fans each year and is broadcast on ESPN to nearly two million viewers!
In 2023 alone, there are a total of 17 Major League Eating contests up and down the country, with a variety of food disciplines and prize purses. Contests range from a World Strawberry Shortcake Eating Championship, with a prize purse of $3,500, to Nathan’s Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest, with a whopping prize purse of $40,000.
Major League Eating (MLE) is the world body that oversees all professional eating contests. In its roster, there are currently 50 professional competitive eaters — both men and women — who participate in the gluttonous events.
All that considered, the research team at Gambling.com decided to work out the Top 10 best states for competitive eating. They analyzed six data points to measure this: Native MLE eaters, Total eating world records, MLE contests (in 2023), Man vs. Food eateries (per capita), Eateries review score, and Google Trends Score (for the Man vs. Food keyword from past 12 months) per state. A total average score for each state was then calculated — with each state ranked from top to bottom for a Top 10. See the methodology at the bottom of the article for more details!
Which State is Best for Competitive Eating?
Our findings discovered Nevada, home to the famous ‘Sin City’ of Las Vegas, to be the best state for competitive eating with a final score of 31, narrowly beating second-place Illinois (28.6).
Even though Illinois and third-place Indiana scored much higher for total eating world records, Nevada performed consistently better across the other categories in the study to take the crown.
Maryland and Tennessee completed the Top 5 with final scores of 23.3 and 23.2, respectively.
While they didn’t make the Top 10 in our main study (finishing 12th), Texas had the highest number of MLE Eaters, with six.
Pennsylvania wasn’t far behind in second place with five MLE eaters on the roster and three states shared the spoils in joint third place (California, New York, and Washington) with four eaters.
Such is the growing popularity of the world of competitive eating, Joey Chestnut from Indiana is the biggest name in the sport by a distance.
He is a particularly dominant force at the largest MLE event, the annual Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest in New York, winning the competition every year since 2006!
Chestnut’s 2022 win at the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest marked his 15th title and he looks odds on to build on his impressive tally at this year's event in July.
Not only is he the undisputed ‘top dog’ of competitive eating, but he is also versatile when it comes to his craft — 55 eating world records in 55 different food disciplines proves that and some of his beast feats (or feasts!) are aptly highlighted in our infographic.
Fun fact: Chestnut consumed over 12,000 calories in less than 10 minutes when he set the record in 2013. That’s as much as four Thanksgiving dinners!
With all that being said, If this article doesn’t make you want to watch every series of ‘Man vs. Food,’ I don’t know what will.
Six different data points per state were measured in an index. They were:
- The number of native MLE eaters
- The number of eating world records
- The number of MLE contests in 2023
- The number of ‘Man vs. Food’ eateries per capita
- The ‘Man vs. Food’ eateries review score
- The Google Trends Score for the ‘Man vs. Food’ keyword from the past 12 months
A total average score for each state was then calculated — with each state ranked from top to bottom for a Top 10.
All data was collected on June 21, 2023.
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