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Hot dog eating champ Joey Chestnut barred from competing in this year’s contest

Kena Betancur/Getty Images

Dynastic hot dog eating champion Joey Chestnut will not compete in this year’s Nathan’s hot dog eating contest after he struck a deal with plant-based food company Impossible Foods.

“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,” the Major League Eating organization, which oversees the event, said in a statement.

Chestnut won the “Mustard Yellow Belt” 16 times, ate a world record 76 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes in 2021 and has reportedly made hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars for his competitive eating of hot dogs and other foods.

MLE co-founder George Shea said the company tried to accommodate Chestnut and his management team, which included allowing him to compete in a rival unbranded hot dog eating contest on Labor Day.

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“It’s a long-standing rule not to represent a rival brand,” Shea said. “Michael Jordan can’t go to Adidas and say that Air Jordans are great.”

The MLE has also emphasized that Chestnut was not banned for life from competing, citing his 20-year relationship with the league. The organization said that to come back Chestnut must renounce deals with brands that rival Nathan’s.

“Joey Chestnut is an American hero. We would love nothing more than to have him at Nathan’s Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest, which he has dominated for years. We hope that he returns when he is not representing a rival brand,” the MLE said in a statement.

An account under Chestnut’s name wrote on X Tuesday that he does “not have a contract with MLE or Nathans and they are looking to change the rules from past years as it relates to other partners I can work with.”

CNN has not independently confirmed the authenticity of the X account.

This is not the first instance of Nathan’s beefing with their winners. Chestnut’s rival and former reigning champion Takeru Kobayashi did not compete in the 2010 contest, reportedly due to disputes with the company over getting him to sign an exclusive contract.

An Impossible Foods spokesperson said, “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.”

Joey Chestnut, Nathan’s and its parent company, Smithfield Foods, did not reply to requests for comment.

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