16-Time Champ Joey Chestnut Banned From Hot-Dog Eating Contest

Due to a conflict with one of the competitive eater's new sponsors
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 12, 2024 1:00 AM CDT
Champ Joey Chestnut Banned From Hot-Dog Eating Contest
Joey Chestnut stuffs his mouth with hot dogs during the men's competition of Nathan's Famous July Fourth hot dog eating contest, July 4, 2019, in New York's Coney Island.   (AP Photo/Sarah Stier, File)

Joey Chestnut, who's won the Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest every 4th of July for the past eight consecutive years, and 16 times overall, is banned from this year's Independence Day event. The problem? The competitive eater has taken a sponsorship deal with Impossible Foods, which makes plant-based hot dogs and is a Nathan's competitor, PIX11 News reports. "It would be like Michael Jordan saying to Nike, 'I'm going to represent Adidas, too,'" explains a rep from Major League Eating, the organization that oversees professional competitive eating events.

  • The word from MLE: "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 word from Chestnut: "To set the record straight, I do not have a contract with MLE or Nathans [sic] and they are looking to change the rules from past years as it relates to other partners I can work with," he said as part of a lengthy statement on X. He said he was "gutted," and that the decision "will deprive the great fans of the holiday's usual joy and entertainment."
  • The word from Impossible Foods: The plant-based food brand tells ESPN it supports Chestnut competing "in any contest he chooses" and that "meat eaters shouldn't have to be exclusive to just one wiener."
Two more US qualifiers for the event are scheduled for later this month. Chestnut is currently the top-ranked competitive eater in the world. (More Joey Chestnut stories.)

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