Joey Chestnut banned from Nathan’s hot dog eating contest over vegan hot dogs

The news about Coney Island hot dogs is hard to swallow.

Joey Chestnut, the perennial winner of the annual Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Competition on the Fourth of July, has dropped out of this year’s competition because of a deal he made to represent another wiener brand, The Post reports.

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And not just any brand, but Impossible Foods, which recently launched a plant-based vegan hot dog.

California-born Chestnut has won it 16 times, including every year since 2016. In 2021, he swallowed a world record 76 dogs and buns, and last year he retained his title with a paltry 62.

He was expected to retake his usual spot for the hot dog contest on the stage at the corner of Stillwell and Surf avenues — one block from the iconic Boardwalk and a Coney Island tradition since 1916 — until the unexpected food clash.

A representative from Major League Eating (MLE), who was approved by Nathan to run the event, said the organizers went out of their way to accommodate Chestnut’s various requests. They even agreed to let him participate in a competitive Labor Day dog-eating fest to be filmed for television, as long as no brand of hot dog was mentioned.

But they said they drew the line when they put Chestnut Pitch behind another hot dog brand.

A source said Chestnut was paid $200,000 to appear on Nathan’s competition last year and was offered a $1.2 million, four-year contract going forward.

“The sides could still come to a resolution before July 4, but that’s up to Joey,” the insider said.

“He’s the Michael Jordan of competitive eating. Imagine Michael Jordan saying to Nike: ‘I love being the face of Nike, but I also want to do commercials for Adidas,’ the source said.

With Chestnut gone for good, leading sportsbook Bovada has named Geoffrey Esper, who finished second last year after eating 49 hot dogs, as this year’s favorite.

MLE said in a statement: “We are devastated to learn that Joey Chestnut has chosen to represent a competing plant-based hot dog brand instead of competing in the 2024 Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July Eating Contest.

“MLE and Nathan have worked very hard over the last few months to accommodate Joey and his

the management team agreeing to an appearance fee and allowing Joey to compete against a rival,

unbranded hot dog eating contest on Labor Day.

“For nearly two decades, we’ve worked under the same basic tenets of hot dog exclusivity. However, Joey and his managers seem to have prioritized a new partnership with another brand over our longstanding relationship.

Organizers did leave the door open for Chestnut to challenge for Nathan’s championship belt again.

“Joey Chestnut is an American hero. We would love nothing more than to be in the Nathan’s Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest. We hope he will return when he is not representing a competing brand.”

Neither Chestnut nor his agents had immediate comment. Impossible Foods also did not respond.

This article was originally published on the NY Post and has been reproduced with permission.

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