16-Time Champion Joey Chestnut Banned from Nathan’s Hot Dog Contest Over Deal with Rival Vegan Hot Dog Brand

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Joey Chestnut, the reigning champion of Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest, has been banned from this year’s July 4 showdown.

The decision, confirmed by Major League Eating (MLE), comes after Chestnut opted to represent a rival hot dog brand that focuses on vegan products.

Joey is currently ranked No. 1 in the world by Major League Eating. Chestnut won his first Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest in 2007, defeating Taer “Tsunami” Kobayashi.

A spokesperson for MLE disclosed to ESPN that Chestnut had opted to “represent another hot dog brand,” thereby disqualifying him from the annual competition held at Coney Island, New York City.

Chestnut, who is widely regarded as competitive eating’s biggest star and has won the event eight consecutive years, is said to have prioritized his new partnership over his long-standing relationship with MLE and Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs.

“We are devastated to learn that Joey Chestnut has chosen to represent a rival brand that sells plant-based hot dogs rather than competing in the 2024 Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest,” MLE said in an official statement.

The organization further explained that it had made significant efforts to accommodate Chestnut and his management team in recent months. These accommodations included agreeing on an appearance fee and allowing him to compete in an unbranded hot dog eating contest on Labor Day.

“For nearly two decades we have worked under the same basic hot dog exclusivity provisions. However, it seems that Joey and his managers have prioritized a new partnership with a different hot dog brand over our long-time relationship,” the statement continued.

According to ESPN, Chestnut holds an impressive record at the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest, owning the top 10 performances including consuming a staggering 76 hot dogs and buns in 2021 alone. He managed to down 62 franks and buns at last year’s event.

“Joey Chestnut is an American hero,” MLE’s statement concluded. “We would love nothing more than to have him at the Nathan’s Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest, which he has dominated for years. We hope that he returns when he is not representing a rival brand.”

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