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Joey Chestnut Responds to Being Barred From Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest

Joey Chestnut Breaks Silence on Being Barred From Hot Dog Eating Contest
Joey Chestnut Bobby Bank/Getty Images

Competitive eating icon Joey Chestnut has responded to being barred from his sport’s most iconic stage.

On Tuesday, June, 11, Major League Eating (MLE) announced Chestnut, 40, the 16-time Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest champion, was barred from competing in this year’s competition for endorsing “another hot dog brand.”

“To set the record straight, I do not have a contract with MLE or Nathan’s and they are looking to change the rules from past years as it relates to other partners I can work with,” Chestnut wrote via Instagram on Tuesday evening. “This is apparently the basis on which I’m being banned, and it doesn’t impact the July 4th contest.”

Chestnut has allegedly signed a deal with Impossible Foods, the makers of plant-based meat alternatives, including hot dogs. 

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“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,” Major League Eating said in a statement to Us Weekly.

Joey Chestnut Breaks Silence on Being Barred From Hot Dog Eating Contest 2
Alexi Rosenfeld/ Getty Images

Chestnut called the decision to bar him from the Fourth of July extravaganza “very disappointing” and that the ruling “will deprive the great fans of the holiday’s usual joy and entertainment.”

“I love competing in that event,” Chestnut wrote, “I love celebrating America with my fans all over this great country on the 4th and I have been training to defend my title.”

Chestnut won last year’s Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest, his eighth consecutive victory in the event, by eating 62 hot dogs and buns. He set the world-record in the event in 2021, when he demolished 76 dogs and buns.

“To my fans, I love you and appreciate you,” Chestnut signed off. “Rest assured that you’ll see me eat again soon. Stay tuned and STAY HUNGRY!”

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George Shea, the notorious longtime host of the hot dog eating contest, called the situation involving Chestnut “a gut punch.”

“To me this is a tradition; it is about New York; it is about the Fourth of July,” Shea told The New York Times. “But maybe that’s just me and not what this is like for everybody.”

Despite the surprising decision, Major League Eating did appear to leave the door open for their biggest superstar to return to action.

“Joey Chestnut is an American hero,” MLE’s statement said. “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.”

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