16-Time Champion Joey Chestnut Breaks Silence After Hot Dog Contest Ban

2023 Nathans Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest

Photo: Getty Images

Sixteen-time Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest champion Joey Chestnut issued a statement following reports that he was banned by Major League Eating from the upcoming annual Fourth of July event due to his recent endorsement of Impossible Foods' vegan frankfurter.

"I was gutted to learn from the media that after 19 years Im banned from the Nathan's July 4th Hot Dog Eating Contest," Chestnut wrote in a thread of posts shared on his X account Tuesday (June 11). "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.

"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.

"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. To my fans, I love you and appreciate you. Rest assured that you’ll see me eat again soon!! STAY HUNGRY!"

A representative for Major League Eating, which Nathan's sanctions to operate the competition, told the New York Post that organizers have complied with Chestnut's demands in the past, but drew the line on allowing him to be endorsed by a different hot dog brand. Chestnut was reportedly paid $200,000 to appear at the Nathan's contest in 2023 and offered a four-year, $1.2 million contract going forward.

“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 said in a statement to the New York Post.

“MLE and Nathan’s went to great lengths 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.

“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.

“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.”

Chestnut won his eighth consecutive Nathan's championship in 2023, eating 62 hot dogs during a storm-delayed event. In 2021, Chestnut broke his previous world record of 74 hot dogs and buns eaten set in 2018 by consuming 75.

In 2021, Chestnut broke his previous world record of 74 hot dogs and buns eaten set in 2018 by consuming 75.

The Kentucky native won his first Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest in 2007, defeating then-six-time defending champion Takeru Kobayashi of Japan, by eating 66 hot dogs and buns.

Chestnut won eight consecutive championships before being defeated by Matt Stonie in 2015 and then winning the next seven consecutive titles from 2016 to 2021.

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