June 16, 2024


Defending champion Joey Chestnut finishes in first place in the 2023 Nathan’s Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest at Coney Island on July 4, 2023 in New York City.

Defending champion Joey Chestnut finishes in first place in the 2023 Nathan’s Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest at Coney Island on July 4, 2023 in New York City.
Image: Bobby Bank (Getty Images)

Hot dog onlookers will be short one warrior this year. That’s because 16-time hot dog eating champion Joey Chestnut does not plan on competing at this year’s Nathan’s hot dog eating contest after he signed a deal with plant-based food company Impossible Foods.

“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,” said the Major League Eating organization in a statement posted to X.

MLE, which oversees the annual event on the Coney Island boardwalk in New York, said that the organization and Nathan’s “went to great lengths in recent months to accommodate Joey and his management team,” adding that they even agreed to the appearance fee to allow Joey to compete in a rival unbranded hot dog eating contest on Labor Day.

But even so, MLE confirmed that Chestnut isn’t being denied the opportunity to compete. In fact, they “hope that he returns when he is not representing a rival brand,” they said in their X post.

“There is no ban. Major League Eating wants him there. The fans want him there. Nathan’s wants him there,” Richard Shea, MLE president, told NBC News.

40-year-old Chestnut, dubbed “the greatest eater in history,” holds the world record when it comes to hot dog eating, MLE said on its website, noting that he once gobbled 76 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes.

Whether Chestnut makes an appearance at this year’s hot dog contest remains to be seen. According to the Post, citing a source with knowledge of the situation, Chestnut received $200,000 to appear at last year’s contest. He was then offered $1.2 million for a four year contract, the publication added.



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