Joey Chestnut, the undisputed champion of hot-dog eating for all but one of the last 17 years — the proverbial winner of the wieners for nearly two decades — will not compete in this year’s Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest, a July 4 tradition going back more than half a century.

That’s because Chestnut recently signed a deal to become a spokesperson for Impossible Foods, the plant-based meat company. And this is the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest — meaning shilling for another brand is against the rules.

The governing body of the NHDEC, Major League Eating, released this statement about this surprising turn of events:

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. MLE and Nathan’s went to great lengths in recent months to accommodate Joey and his management team, agreeing to the appearance fee 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 long-time relationship.


Competitors Vie For Ultimate Eating Prize At Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest
Getty Images

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Chestnut has won every Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest since 2007, except one; he was briefly dethroned in 2015 by rival dog chomper Matt Stonie in 2015. Chestnut returned to dominance in 2016 and won every year since. Last July 4, he topped the competition by eating 62 hot dogs and buns in 12 minutes. He currently holds the contest’s all-time record, with 76 hot dogs and buns, which he achieved in 2021. That’s just bonkers.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Chestnut will instead appear on an upstart hot dog eating competition on Netflix over Labor Day weekend.

You can watch the Chestnut-less July 4th Hot Dog Eating Contest on ESPN. I suppose Chestnut’s absence does make the field a bit more competitive for the first time in a long time. Other competitive eaters will finally have a chance to ketchup to a few of Chestnut’s records.

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