Champ Joey Chestnut Banned From Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest Amid Beef Over Sponsorship

Sixteen-time champion Joey Chestnut has been banned from Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest in a beef over sponsorship. It seems the folks at Major League Eating, which oversees the contest, didn’t think his reported deal with Impossible Foods was kosher.

“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.

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Chestnut has won the coveted Mustard Belt — handed out to the person who eats the most hot dogs each July 4 — for eight years running and in 16 of the past 17 years. The only break in his reign came in 2015, when Matt Stonie took the title.

Not having Chestnut at this year’s event would be a big blow. He ate 62 hot dogs and buns at last year’s event. The runner-up only got to 49. It sounds like the powers that be understand this.

“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 continues. “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.”

Chestnut makes an estimated $250,000 to $500,000 per year in competitive eating challenges and via sponsorship deals. He also has his own line of condiments for hot dogs, brats, sausages, wings and sandwiches.

ESPN platforms have aired the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest since 2004. In 2022, ESPN signed a new deal with the International Federation of Competitive Eating to continue the broadcast partnership through 2029. In 2023, the men’s competition aired on ESPN2 and streamed on the ESPN app.

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