Joey Chestnut banned from hot dog eating contest over sponsor conflict

Joey Chestnutt’s domination of the annual Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest appears over for this July 4 because of a dispute over his sponsorship deal with rival brand Impossible Foods, maker of plant-based hamburgers and hot dogs.

Major League Eating, which sanctions the contest for Nathan’s in New York City’s Coney Island, announced Tuesday that Chestnut, a 16-time champion including every year since 2016, will not be allowed to compete for the Mustard Belt.

Chestnut’s agreement to represent Impossible Foods, first reported by the New York Post, will prevent his participation in the competition, according to MLE.

“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 brand over our long-time relationship,” MLE said in a statement.

“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.”

George Shea, who organizes the event for MLE, said: “It would be like Michael Jordan saying to Nike, ‘I’m going to represent Adidas, too,’ ”

Chestnut commented Tuesday on his Twitter/X account that he was “gutted” to find out from media that he was “banned” after 19 years in the 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,” he wrote on his account. “To set the record straight, I do not have a contract with MLE or Nathans and they are looking to change the rules from past years as it relates to other partners I can work with. This is apparently the basis on which I’m being banned, and it doesn’t impact the July 4th event.”

Chestnut owns the world record with 76 hot dogs and buns consumed at the 2021 event, and last year won with 62.

“Sadly, this is the decision Nathan’s and Major League Eating are making, and it will deprive the great fans of the holiday’s usual joy and entertainment,” Chestnut wrote on social media. “To my fans, I love you and appreciate you. Rest assured that you’ll see me eat again soon!! STAY HUNGRY!”

–Field Level Media