Hot Dog Eating Contest Bans 16-Time Champion Joey Chestnut

( — Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July hot dog eating contest’s reigning champ Joey Chestnut, will not participate in this year’s competition over his agreement to sponsor a rival brand.

The 40-year-old Chestnut has been the face of the annual Coney Island event for years, vying for the infamous Mustard Belt since 2005. He has won nearly every competition since 2007, losing only once in 2015. The Indiana resident set a new record in 2021 when he ate 76 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes.

However, event organizer George Shea of Major League Eating said that while the competition and the fans loved Chestnut, “he made the choice.”

Chestnut disputed Major League Eating’s contention that he was leaving the competition over a contract dispute.

In a thread posted on X, Chestnut said he was “gutted” by the decision to ban him from this year’s July Fourth competition and insisted that he was not under contract with either Nathan’s or Major League Eating. He accused the event of trying to “change the rules” about the “other partners I can work with.”

However, Shea insisted that Chestnut crossed a red line when he struck a deal with a competitor of Nathan’s, the vegan alternative meat company Impossible Foods.

Shea said the decision was not about money but exclusivity, explaining that it would be as if the basketball legend Michael Jordan told Nike that he was also “going to represent Adidas.”

Impossible Foods would not comment on its deal with Chestnut, only saying in a statement that the company would support the reigning champ in “any contest” he chose to enter.

The annual hot dog eating contest began in 1972. Each July Fourth holiday finds large crowds gathered outside of the original Nathan’s restaurant in Coney Island to watch the competitors devour platters full of iconic American food.

At this year’s contest, those who expected to do no better than second place against the infamous Joey Chestnut likely have renewed hope that the title just might be theirs.

Second place in last year’s competition went to Oxford, Massachusetts, resident Geoffrey Esper, who ate 49 hot dogs. Chestnut came out on top, eating a total of 62.

Copyright 2024,