Joey Chestnut out of 2024 Nathan’s Hot Dog Contest – NBC New York

Acclaimed competitive eater Joey “Jaws” Chestnut won’t compete in this year’s Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest over a reported contract he inked with a company that makes plant-based franks, according to the group Nathan’s sanctions to run the highly anticipated annual event.

Major League Eating released a statement Tuesday that read in part, “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 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 read. “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.”

When asked if Chestnut was banned from the event, Major League Eating President Richard Shea said he was not.

“There is no ban,” Shea told NBC News. “Major League Eating wants him there. The fans want him there. Nathan’s wants him there.”

Shea said the dispute came down to exclusivity, not money.

“It would be like Michael Jordan saying to Nike, ‘I’m going to represent Adidas, too,’” Shea said.

Hours later, Chestnut took to social media to reply to Major League Eating not allowing him to compete due to his deal with Impossible Foods, saying he was “gutted” by the decision that he learned from media reports.

“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,” the champion competitive eater said as part of a thread on X. “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.”

He also thanked his fans and said he would be competing again soon.

“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,” the post on X read.

For their part, Impossible Foods said in a statement “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.”

In May, the company announced an ad campaign aimed at engaging meat-eaters who want to supplement their diet with more plant-based proteins, even if they don’t want to give up meat entirely.

Chestnut is a 16-time winner of the annual Fourth of July contest, a record, and notched his most recent win last year.

His best finish was in 2021.

“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,” read the statement from Major League Eating.

The annual Fourth of July contest is held at the corner of Surf and Stillwell Avenues on Coney Island, where competitors battle it out to see who can consume the most hot dogs (and buns) within a 10-minute span.

Here’s everything to know about the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest:

How much money does the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest winner make?

Eating all of those hot dogs comes with a price, but the best finishers receive money — and a WWE-esque championship belt — for their efforts.

The total prize pool typically is $40,000, so here’s how that purse is usually allocated among the top five eaters: 

  • First place: $10,000
  • Second place: $5,000
  • Third place: $2,500
  • Fourth place: $1,500
  • Fifth place: $1,000

What is the record for hot dogs eaten in the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest?

The world record for hot dogs eaten in the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest is 76, which was set by Joey Chestnut in 2021. The 39-year-old topped the old record of 75 in 2020, which he set himself. In 2018, Chestnut consumed 74 hot dogs, another record at the time. He’s the No. 1-ranked eater in the world for a reason.

How many times has Joey Chestnut won the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest?

Chestnut made it 16 total wins in the contest after winning in 2023. It’s the most of any competitor in the competition.

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