16-Time Champion Joey Chestnut Banned from Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest: Report


Editor’s Note: Our readers responded strongly to this story when it originally ran; we’re reposting it here in case you missed it. 

Hot dog-eating legend Joey Chestnut will not be competing in this year’s July Fourth Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Competition, according to a report.

Chestnut has made a deal to represent Impossible Foods, which sells plant-based “meat” products, according to the New York Post.

Nathan’s requires competitors in its contest not to represent another brand, according to ABC.

George Shea, who promotes the event, told The New York Times that he was “devastated.”

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“It would be like back in the day Michael Jordan coming to Nike, who made his Air Jordans, and saying, ‘I am just going to rep Adidas, too,’” Shea said. “It just can’t happen.”

Shea said having the contest without Chestnut was “like a gut punch. To me this is a tradition; it is about New York; it is about the Fourth of July. But maybe that’s just me and not what this is like for everybody.”

Holding the event without Chestnut would be “a sad day,” he said, adding that introducing Chestnut at the contest was “one of the singular joys of my life.”

Shea said that fans will be upset.

Have you ever watched the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Competition?

“The fans are going to feel this way, and I feel this way: Where is Joey? What is he doing?” Mr. Shea said. “We want him there. If he can figure this out and not rep another hot dog brand, then it’s all good. He could come back tomorrow; you just can’t come representing a rival brand.”

But he said the show will go on.

“The contest is the institution — not me, not Joey, not anybody,” he said. “Him not being there opens up the entire contest for new champions.”

The Post report said Chestnut, who has won the Nathan’s contest 16 times and every year since 2016, was paid $200,000 last year to appear at the Fourth of July event and had been offered $1.2 million over four years to continue to appear.

The Post said there is still a chance of a resolution.

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“The two sides could still come to a resolution before July 4, but it depends on Joey,” said a source the Post did not name.

Major League Eating said in a statement that it was “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 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,” the statement said.

The statement complained, “Joey and his managers have prioritized a new partnership with a different brand over our long-time relationship.”

Major League Eating said bygones can be bygones if Chestnut, who holds the contest record by eating 76 hot dogs in 2021, will change his ways.

“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,” its statement said.

The Post noted that Chestnut did not respond to questions about the contest, nor did Impossible Foods.

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Jack Davis is a freelance writer who joined The Western Journal in July 2015 and chronicled the campaign that saw President Donald Trump elected. Since then, he has written extensively for The Western Journal on the Trump administration as well as foreign policy and military issues.
Jack Davis is a freelance writer who joined The Western Journal in July 2015 and chronicled the campaign that saw President Donald Trump elected. Since then, he has written extensively for The Western Journal on the Trump administration as well as foreign policy and military issues.
Jack can be reached at
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