Advertisement

Joey Chestnut out of this year's Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest

NEW YORK -- Joey Chestnut, the reigning champion of the Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest and holder of the coveted Mustard Yellow Belt, is out of this year's competition, organizers said Tuesday.

At issue is Chestnut's partnership with Impossible Foods, a rival brand that sells plant-based hot dogs.

The news seemed hard to swallow for Major League Eating, which organizes the event, saying in a statement that it was "devastated" Chestnut had "chosen to represent a rival brand that sells plant-based hot dogs."

"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," MLE's statement read. "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."

"We hope that he returns when he is not representing a rival brand," MLE added.

Chestnut spoke out on Instagram, saying, in part, "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."

A spokesperson for Impossible Foods told CBS News in a statement that "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."

Chestnut is a 16-time "chompion," last winning the 2023 competition with 62 hot dogs. He has won the contest consistently since 2007, with the exception of 2015, when his 60 hot dogs were topped by Matthew Stonie, who ate 62. Chestnut also holds the all time record, which he set in 2021, of 76 hot dogs.

Defending champion Joey Chestnut competes in the 2023 Nathan's Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest at Coney Island on July 4, 2023, in New York City. / Credit: Bobby Bank / Getty Images
Defending champion Joey Chestnut competes in the 2023 Nathan's Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest at Coney Island on July 4, 2023, in New York City. / Credit: Bobby Bank / Getty Images

With Chestnut out of the competition and Takeru Kobayashi announcing his retirement from competitive eating, it appears it will be a wide-open field for the men at this year's contest.

Miki Sudo is the defending women's champion, and has won nine out of the past 10 years in her division, and holds the women's world record with 48.5 hot dogs which she set in 2020.

The contest dates back to 1916. It's held on July 4 every year at Nathan's Hot Dog stand on Surf and Stillwell Avenues in Coney Island, Brooklyn.

8 people with alleged ties to ISIS arrested in multiple U.S. cities

Two female lawmakers killed days apart in Mexico following election of first woman president

Co-worker of Gilgo Beach murders suspect says he unnerved her by tracking her down on vacation