Joey Chestnut won’t be competing in the 2024 Nathan’s hot dog eating contest; here’s why

FILE - Competitive eating champion Joey Chestnut wins the 2017 Nathans Famous 4th Of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest with 72 hot dogs at Coney Island on July 4, 2017 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Bobby Bank/WireImage)

Famous competitive eater, Joey Chestnut, will not be competing in the 2024 Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest, according to a Major League Eating (MLE) statement. 

While it is customary (and required) for all competitors who participate in Nathan’s hot dog eating contests to represent and promote only Nathan’s hot dogs, Chestnut has elected to "represent a rival brand that sells plant-based hot dogs." 

Chestnut recently signed a deal with Impossible Foods, a rival of Nathan's.

"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," an Impossible Foods spokesperson said in a statement to FOX TV Stations. 

"Everyone (contestants) has a Major League Eating agreement and this stipulation is the one thing that's been around forever. This is not a surprise, this is a choice," an MLE spokesperson told FOX. The competitive eating governing body also noted that they were made aware of Chestnut's decision last week. 

MLE hosts the Nathan’s hot dog eating contest every year and said that while they are devastated that Chestnut has decided to opt out of competing, he is not banned. 

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MLE said it allowed Chestnut to participate in a rival competition on Labor Day, which will be broadcast on Netflix. Chestnut allegedly made $200,000 for appearing in last year's contest and was offered a four-year, $1.2 million deal, according to the New York Post. 

Instead, Chestnut will be promoting a rival.

"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," MLE said.

"Joey Chestnut is an American hero. 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," MLE added. 

Joey Chestnut's response 

Chestnut "set the record straight" Tuesday afternoon following the news that he would not be competing in Nathan's July 4th contest. 

"I was gutted to learn from the media that after 19 years I'm banned from the Nathan's July 4th Hot Dog Eating Contest. 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," Chestnut wrote on his X, formerly known as Twitter, account. 

Chestnut went on to contrast MLE's statement, and wrote that the decision to not allow him to compete due to him representing a rival hot dog brand was Nathan's and Major League Eating's decision. 

"It will deprive the great fans of the holiday's usual joy and entertainment," Chestnut continued. 

Additionally, Chestnut went on to say that while he does not have a contract with either MLE or Nathan's, he claimed that both parties were "looking to change the rules from past years as it relates to other partners I can work with." 

"To my fans, I love you and appreciate you. Rest assured that you'll see me eat again soon! Stay hungry!" Chestnut wrote. 

Joey Chestnut is the GOAT of eating competitions

The 40-year-old competitive eater has won the Nathan's contest every year but one since 2007. He was upset by Matt Stonie in the 2015 competition but has since rattled off eight straight victories in the contest.

Chestnut's 76 dogs and buns in the 2021 contest remain a world record. He ate 62 last year, enough to defend his title (in just 10 minutes).

Other world records held by Chestnut include his 32 Bic Macs in 38 minutes, 44 Raising Cane's chicken fingers in five minutes and 61.5 four-ounce pork roll sandwiches in 10 minutes, among dozens of others.

Chestnut famously took down a protester at the 2022 event via chokehold, which didn't phase him one bit. He still downed 63 dogs and buns.

FOX TV Stations has reached out to Chestnut's representatives for a statement. 

FOX News contributed to this report.  This story was reported from Los Angeles.