Joey Chestnut to Skip Nathan’s Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest Over Endorsement Dispute

Joey Chestnut to Skip Nathan’s Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest Over Endorsement Dispute

The Nathan’s Fourth of July hot dog eating contest will be missing its all-time great this year as Joey Chestnut, the 16-time winner of the event, will not be competing. Major League Eating (MLE) announced that Chestnut’s decision to endorse vegan hot dogs, rather than Nathan’s, has led to his absence from the contest.

"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 said in a statement.

Nathan's, the iconic Coney Island hot dog brand, has a long-standing rule prohibiting competitors from endorsing rival brands if they wish to participate in the contest. Despite efforts by MLE and Nathan's to accommodate Chestnut, including agreeing to an appearance fee and allowing him to compete in an unbranded hot dog eating contest on Labor Day, Chestnut's endorsement of the Impossible brand, known for its vegan burgers, hot dogs, and sausages, led to the current impasse.

"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 added.

Chestnut, 40, has been a dominant force in the Nathan’s contest, winning every year from 2007 to 2014 and again from 2016 to 2023. His record includes consuming 76 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes in 2021. The only interruption to his streak was in 2015, when Matt Stone took the title by eating 62 hot dogs to Chestnut’s 60.

Despite the disappointment, MLE expressed hope for Chestnut’s return. "Joey Chestnut is an American hero," the league said. "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."

As the contest approaches, fans and competitors alike will keenly feel the absence of the reigning champion, marking the end of an era in competitive eating.