Joey Chestnut Out of Nathan’s Hot Dog Contest Over Business Dispute

  • Competitive-eating king Joey Chestnut has dominated the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest, winning the last eight in a row and 16 overall.
  • He would have been an overwhelming favorite to win his 17th title, but Chestnut is banned from the 2024 edition.
  • He has a deal with Impossible Foods, which is a rival of Nathan’s Hot Dog. Chestnut wanted to promote the new vegan hot dog from Impossible Foods.

Joey Chestnut is synonymous with the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest in Coney Island, New York. While the contest has officially been going since 1967, it really took off in the mainstream when Chestnut stepped up to challenge Takeru Kobayashi. After finishing second twice, Chestnut beat Kobayashi in 2007 and has gone on to set numerous world records.

However, the New York Post is reporting that Chestnut is banned from the 2024 edition of the tournament. Chestnut has a promotional deal with one of Nathan’s Hot Dogs rivals, Impossible Food. That makes it impossible for the two sides to be in business with each other, at least for this year.

Chestnut Promoting Impossible Food’s Vegan Hot Dog, Nathan’s Not Happy

Just three years ago, Chestnut set the world record with 76 hot dogs, breaking his record of 74 from 75 from 2020. Chestnut’s popularity in the contest, which is held every Fourth of July, helped boost the profile of Major League Eating dramatically. Just last year, Chestnut ate “only” 62 hot dogs, en route to another Mustard Yellow Belt, which is given to the winner. He was a massive favorite in this year’s hot dog eating contest odds.

But the two sides couldn’t come to an agreement after it was revealed that Chestnut, who is from California originally, was working with a competitor. Impossible Foods, which specializes in plant-based foot for those that don’t eat meat, has a vegan hot dog on the market.

Everything came to a head when Chestnut wanted to promote the brand at the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest, which was met with a firm “no”. The New York Post report states that Chestnut was paid $200,000 for last year’s contest. Major League Eating was also ready to allow Chestnut to take part in a non-MLE hot-dog eating contest on Labor Day, which is slated to be released on Netflix. But he wasn’t allowed to mention another hot-dog brand. In a statement, MLE said:

“For nearly two decades, we have worked under the same basic hot dog exclusivity provisions. However, it appears that Joey and his managers have prioritized a new partnership with a different brand over our long-time relationship. 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. We hope he returns when he is not representing a rival brand.”

Where do Chestnut and Major League Eating Go from Here?

It’s a massive blow to Major League Eating to lose their biggest name, on the eve of their biggest contest. While they do offer other eating competitions, they don’t hold a candle to the hot dog eating contest.

This just seems to be a matter of money, so there is a path forward for the two sides. Chestnut was reportedly offered a four-year deal worth $1.2 million, but decided to go to Impossible Foods instead. This could be just a negotiation ploy for Chestnut, who is no longer on the board at online sportsbooks for the 2024 Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest. BetOnline has James Webb as the new favorite.

About the Author
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Elliot Nield
Casino/Sportsbook Writer
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Elliot Nield has worked in the online gambling industry for almost two decades, and while his focus is on sports, he doesn't mind a few hours on the poker felts and the blackjack tables. In his spare time, Elliot can be found cheering on Manchester United and the Kansas City Chiefs, and praying that Patrick Mahomes stays healthy forever.

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