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Joey Chestnut Banned From Fourth Of July Hot Dog Eating Contest, For Reasons Wholly UnAmerican

 Joey Chestnut stretching before hot dog eating competition that was boradcast on ESPN in 2019.
Joey Chestnut stretching before hot dog eating competition that was boradcast on ESPN in 2019.

When it comes to sports, we watch football on Thanksgiving and hot dog eating on the Fourth of July. However, this Independence Day one of the greatest competitive eaters won’t be competing because he was banned from the annual Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Competition.

That’s right, the 16-time hot dog-eating champion won’t be back to compete this year over a deal he reportedly made with Impossible Foods. The Post reported that Impossible Foods recently launched a vegan frankfurter, and Chestnut was allegedly going to represent that plant-based brand. The article noted that Nathan's, who runs the annual event, met a lot of the competitor's other demands – like letting him participate in a rival Labor Day competition for Netflix – however, this deal was the breaking point.

Major League Eating (MLE) released a statement to the outlet about this decision, and it broke down their reasoning for not letting Joey Chestnut compete. It explained:

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 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.

Reportedly, a source said Chestnut was paid $200,000 last year to compete, and they claimed that this year he was offered a $1.2 million four-year contract. However, that won’t be happening now.

The statement continued, explaining that it was the brand deal that caused this choice. It noted:

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 brand over our long-time relationship.

While they have banned him from this competition, they didn’t close the door forever. The rep did say that Chestnut is “an American hero,” and they’d “love nothing more” than to have him back at the contest as long as he’s “not representing a rival brand.”

This is major news because Joey Chestnut is competitive eating’s biggest name ESPN reported. In 2021 he ate a record 76 hot dogs (which the feed actually cut out during this historic moment), and last year he downed 62 hot dogs and buns, proving he is the top dog in this competition.

Overall, he’s won the Fourth of July competition 16 times, and he’s taken the title every year since 2016. However, this year, when the Independence Day tradition airs on the 2024 TV schedule, Joey Chestnut will not be there.

If there’s a silver lining to this, it’s that he will avoid all the gross stuff that happens to the body after eating too many hot dogs. However, his competitive eating isn’t limited to the BBQ staple, as he has also broken a record for eating Big Macs, and he has a YouTube channel where he consistently posts about the large amounts of food he consumes.

At the time of this writing, Joey Chestnut and his team haven’t responded to the news. As this situation develops, we’ll be sure to keep you posted.

If you want to watch the annual hot dog eating competition, you can catch it on ESPN on the Fourth of July at 12:30 p.m. ET.