Joey Chestnut Out at Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest for the First Time in 19 Years

The world record eater was forced to sit out after signing a brand deal with Impossible Foods, which is releasing a plant-based hot dog.

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In the list of things that are quintessentially American, you’ve got apple pie, baseball, and Joey Chestnut knocking back dozens of hot dogs on the Fourth of July. Unfortunately for fans of the yearly Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest on Coney Island, the professional eater will not participate in the event this year for the first time since 2006.

It was revealed that Joey would not be allowed to participate in a report from The New York Post. The paper revealed that the world record eater was out over a deal that he made with Impossible Foods, which has pioneered the vegan food market with products like the plant-based Impossible Burger. The company has reportedly launched their own line of vegan hot dogs, and Joey has signed a deal to represent the brand.

The outlet reported that Major League Eating (yes, it’s a real thing) had worked with Joey to come to an agreement, even allowing him to participate in a Labor Day hot dog-eating contest, which wouldn’t mention the brand name of the glizzies.

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While Joey’s new partnership marks a huge shift in the annual hot dog eating contest, the MLE shared that they would be open to allowing him back if they could come to an agreement. “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,” they said in a statement to The Post. “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. We hope he returns when he is not representing a rival brand.”

Following the decision, the hot dog champion released a statement on X (formerly Twitter) discussing how devastated he was to learn about the decision from the news reports. “I was gutted to learn from the media that after 19 years Im banned from the Nathan’s July 4th Hot Dog Eating Contest. I love competing in that event, I love celebrating America with my fans all over this great country on the 4th and I have been training to defend my title,” he wrote. “Sadly, this is the decision Nathan’s and Major League Eating are making, and it will deprive the great fans of the holiday’s usual joy and entertainment. To my fans, I love you and appreciate you. Rest assured that you’ll see me eat again soon!! STAY HUNGRY!”

An Impossible Foods spokesperson showed support for Joey in this new phase of his career in a statement received by Hollywood Life. “We love Joey and support him in any contest he chooses. It’s OK to experiment with a new dog. Meat eaters shouldn’t have to be exclusive to just one wiener,” they said.

The contest’s host and promoter George Shea opened up about what a “gut punch” the decision to end their partnership is in an interview with The New York Times. “It would be like back in the day Michael Jordan coming to Nike, who made his Air Jordans, and saying, ‘I am just going to rep Adidas too,'” he said. “To me this is a tradition; it is about New York; it is about the Fourth of July. But maybe that’s just me and not what this is like for everybody.”

Joey has been competing in the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest since 2006, and he’s won 16 times after he unseated former champion Takeru Kobayashi in 2007. In 2021, he set a new record for most hot dogs eaten in 10 minutes, when he downed 76 weenies during the Fourth of July contest.