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Joey Chestnut responds to being ‘banned’ from 2024 Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest

Joey Chestnut responds to being ‘banned’ from 2024 Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest

There’s less than one month until the Nathan’s Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest, but fans will have to stomach a major shakeup to the competition. Sixteen-time winner Joey Chestnut will not be competing in the Coney Island competition this year.

The decision comes after Chestnut allegedly partnered with a competing brand to Nathan’s Famous.

Chestnut took to Instagram on June 11 with his version of what went down. The champion said in his post that he heard he wouldn’t be able to participate in the contest from the media rather than from MLE or Nathan’s Famous.

“I was very disappointed to learn from the media today that after nearly 20 years I am banned from the Nathan’s 4th of July Hot Dog Eating Contest,” Chestnut wrote. “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.”

Despite rumors that Chestnut was banned from the competition, Major League Eating (MLE) confirmed to TODAY.com that’s not the case.

“There is no ban,” Richard Shea, MLE co-founder, tells TODAY.com. “Major League Eating wants him there. The fans want him there. Nathan’s wants him there.”

In a statement provided to TODAY.com, MLE said, “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 statement continued: “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.”

“To set the record straight, I do not have a contract with MLE or Nathan’s and they are looking to change the rules from past years as it relates to other partners I can work with,” Chestnut wrote in his Instagram post. “This is apparently the basis on which I’m being banned, and it doesn’t impact the July 4th contest.”

MLE did not immediately respond to TODAY.com’s request for comment on the alleged rule changes.

Fans of Chestnut came to his defense on social media, with some users calling for a boycott of the contest.

“IF CHESTNUT AINT EATING THEN WE AINT WATCHING,” one user wrote on Instagram.

“Stay strong jaws! They should never treat the GOAT like this!” another added.

Chestnut, 40, began competing in the annual Independence Day contest in 2005; at the time, Takeru Kobayashi was the reigning hot-dog eating champion. Chestnut won his first contest in 2007 after consuming 66 hot dogs and continued to eat his way to the top year after year. In 2015, his winning streak came to an unsavory halt by competitor Matthew Stonie, who consumed 62 hot dogs over Chestnut’s 60. The following year, Chestnut reclaimed his place as top dog and in 2021, he set an all-time record by eating 76 hot dogs in 10 minutes.

The national championship challenges hungry contestants to consume as many hot dogs as possible — buns included — in just 10 minutes. They’re allowed to dunk the hot dogs in water to soften the buns for easier consumption, but condiments aren’t allowed.

Beyond the all-American bite, Chestnut holds eating records for hard-boiled eggs, chicken wings, shrimp wontons, tacos, pierogi, whole turkeys, poutine, shrimp gumbo and more. According to MLE, he is the league’s No. 1 competitive eater.

The Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest — held on the corner of Surf and Stillwell avenues in Coney Island — draws nearly 35,000 fans each year. The contest is sponsored by Pepto-Bismol and awards first-place winners with a $10,000 cash prize, plus the infamous Mustard Yellow Belt.

“Joey Chestnut is an American hero,” MLE said in a statement. “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. We hope that he returns when he is not representing a rival brand.”

“To my fans, I love you and appreciate you,” concludes the competitive eater’s caption. “Rest assured that you’ll see me eat again soon. Stay tuned and STAY HUNGRY!”

This article was originally published on TODAY.com