Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Champ Joey Chestnut Out of July 4 Contest After Backing Plant-Based Brand

Joey Chestnut, the reigning champ and 16-time Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest winner, will be ineligible to compete in this year’s 4th of July competition.

The record-breaking hot dog devourer has become an Independence Day staple for Americans nationwide, but he’s recently traded in his all-beef Nathan’s franks for plant-based dogs.

“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,” Major League Eating said in a Tuesday statement.

While he is not officially banned from participating on July 4, the league noted they went to great lengths to accommodate the record-breaker’s management, even allowing Chestnut to compete in an unbranded hot dog eating contest for Labor Day set to stream on Netflix.

“However, it seems that Joey and his managers have prioritized a new partnership with a different hot dog brand over our long-time relationship,” their statement continued.

Multiple outlets have reported this new partnership is with Impossible Foods, who just launched a vegan frankfurter earlier this year. Chestnut’s new deal violates the exclusivity contract for the Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July competition, one that has been set in place for two decades, per MLE.

The annual competition amasses crowds of thousands who travel to Coney Island each year to witness the event in person, with millions more watching on ESPN.

Chestnut has been the name to beat for nearly two decades, winning 16 of the last 17 Nathan’s Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contests, including each of the last eight. He also holds the all-time record with 76 hot dogs and buns eaten in one sitting, which he set in 2021.

However, contest organizers also stated they would welcome the star back with open arms whenever he’s ready.

“Joey Chestnut is an American hero. 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,” the league added. “We hope that he returns when he is not representing a rival brand.”

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