Joey Chestnut banned from competing in Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest

Joey Chestnut

A Fourth of July tradition will be missing this year -- Joey Chestnut wolfing down scores of hot dogs on Coney Island.

Major League Eating announced on Tuesday that Chestnut, 41, who has won the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest 16 of the past 17 years, has been banned from the annual event, ESPN reported.

A spokesperson for Major League Eating told ESPN that Chestnut chose to represent another hot dog brand, disqualifying him from this year’s competition.

Chestnut owns the all-time record at the contest, set in 2021 when he downed 76 hot dogs and buns, according to CBS Sports.

He reportedly agreed to a sponsorship with Impossible Foods, a company that makes plant-based hot dogs and is a competitor with Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs, ESPN reported.

In a statement, Major League Eating called Chestnut “an American hero” and expressed disappointment with his sponsorship with 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,” the organization said. “MLE and Nathan’s went to great lengths in recent months to accommodate Joey and his management team, agreeing to their appearance fee requests and allowing Joey to compete in a rival 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 longtime relationship.”

ESPN reached out to Chestnut and Impossible Foods for comment.

Chestnut won last year’s event when he ate 62 hot dogs and buns, CBS Sports reported. Geoffrey Esper, the No. 2-ranked eater in Major League Eating, took second with 49.

The only eater to defeat Chestnut over the past 17 years was Matt Stonie in 2015, according to the news outlet.

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