Joey Chestnut unable to compete in Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest after signing with plant-based food company

June 11, 2024
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The world’s greatest eater won’t be able to compete in the world’s greatest eating event.

Joey Chestnut, a 16-time champion of the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest, is unable to participate in the July 4 event after signing with another hot dog brand, according to Major League Eating. 

“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,” a statement said. “MLE and Nathan’s went to great lengths in recent months to accommodate Joey and his management team, agreeing to the appearance fee and allowing Joey to compete in a rival unbranded hot dog eating contest on Labor Day. 

Competitive eater Joey Chestnut holds a plate of hotdogs representing his world record for eating 76 hotdogs and buns in ten minutes during a weigh-in ceremony before the Nathan's Famous July Fourth hot dog eating contest on July 3, 2023, in New York.
Joey Chestnut holds a plate of hotdogs representing his world record for eating 76 hotdogs and buns during a weigh-in before the Nathan’s Famous July Fourth hot dog eating contest on July 3, 2023.John Minchillo / AP file

“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.”

Asked if Chestnut was banned from the event, Richard Shea of Major League eating said no.

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

The 40-year-old is the eight-time defending champion of the event. Last year, he won with 62 hot dogs and buns consumed over a 10-minute period. His record is 76 from 2021.  

Second place contestant Takeru Kobayashi of Japan and winner Joey Chestnut at Nathan's Famous hot dog eating contest on July 4, 2007.
Six-time defending champion Takeru Kobayashi of Japan holds the hand of the new champion, Joey Chestnut, at Nathan’s Famous hot dog eating contest on July 4, 2007. Curtis Means / NBC

Chestnut was put on the map in 2007 when he upset longtime titleholder Takeru Kobayashi of Japan. Kobayashi had won six in a row to that point.

According to the MLE, Chestnut holds records in 55 categories including eggs, pulled pork sandwiches, chicken wings, apple pies, pierogis and gyros. 

“Joey Chestnut is an American hero,” Major League Eating said. “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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