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Joey Chestnut claimed his 11th men's title and Miki Sudo her fifth women's title at the 2018 Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest. USA TODAY Sports

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Joey Chestnut is deep into the competitive eating season.

From hot dogs on New York's Coney Island to ice cream in Indianapolis, Chestnut travels the country — and the world — displaying the unique gifts that make him, according to his website, "the greatest eater in the history of the world."

Next stop: Saturday at noon at the Wisconsin State Fair's Associated Bank Amphitheater, where Chestnut and others will participate in a 6-minute cheese curd eating championship.

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"It's going to be way more cheese than I've ever had," Chestnut said in an interview.

Competitive eating isn't just a hobby for Chestnut. It's a profession.

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He lives in California, is on the road 120 days a year and is the No. 1 ranked competitor on the Major League Eating circuit (there is such a thing).

And, yes, people do recognize him when he's far from a plate of food.

The annual 4th of July Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest on New York's Coney Island made Chestnut a star.

He has claimed the Mustard Belt 11 times. This year, he ate 74 hot dogs (with buns) in 10 minutes.

Chestnut holds more than 40 eating records, gobbling up everything from apple pie to Twinkies.

He can stomach almost anything but absolutely won't go near an oyster. He can't handle the texture.

And his record-setting feat of eating 54 brain tacos over 8 minutes did not go down well.

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"It was not the highlight of my eating career," he said.

Chestnut can't quite fathom the turn his life took 13 years ago when his younger brother entered him in a lobster eating contest.

"I ended up getting third," he said. "I was really nervous. It was hard for me to eat in front of people."

Two weeks later, he won a fried asparagus contest.

"I have a degree in civil engineering," he said. "Now, I just travel around the world and eat. It has gotten to the point where it’s a weird, wild wave and I’m just riding it."

There are some downsides with the profession, of course.

"I’ve strained some muscles here and there, in my throat, even my jaw," he said. "Nothing that doesn't heal quickly. I love to eat. It's always a battle to maintain my weight."

Since the Fourth of July, Chestnut said he has gained 20 pounds and weighs in at around 233. During the off season, he said he eats sensibly, salad and fruit and normal-sized portions.

Which brings him to cheese curds. He's had them on top of poutine, a French-Canadian dish that includes french fries and gravy. Chestnut ate a record 25½ pounds of poutine in 2016.

"I've never had them to the point where they're actually squeaky," he said.

To practice for cheese curds, he has been eating cut-up mozzarella cheese.

"Like any sport, there are a whole lot of little things I do," he said.

He'll begin fasting 36 hours before the event, going on a liquid diet. And once the contest begins, he'll try to get a rhythm.

"Make sure I’m chewing, swallowing and breathing my whole body is working together," he said. "I can just find a rhythm and keep going and going and going. It's my love of food.

"There are competitive people who love to push their body but don’t love to eat like I do. They get nauseous early on in the contest."

The first few minutes of a contest, Chestnut said he's usually having fun. In the last few minutes, though, he said, "it's how much do I want it."

"I can usually stomach it and push forward," he said.

At the State Fair, there will be at least 11 competitors with a maximum of 13. They'll be eating out of 8-ounce containers, finishing one and moving on to the next.

The winner is determined by weight, the most cheese curds eaten in 6 minutes.

State Fair will be taking delivery on 125 pounds of fresh cheese curds from Henning's Wisconsin Cheese in Kiel, a fourth-generation company that has been making cheese since 1914.

So how many people does 125 pounds of cheese curd usually feed? Kert Henning figures an average person will eat anywhere between ⅛th of a pound to a quarter pound.

"Some eat more, others less, so you could possibly feed roughly 500 people or more," he said.

Chestnut figures he can eat at least a pound of curds a minute.

"If I could do eight pounds, I’d be happy," he said. "Ten pounds would be really tough."

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