Joey Chestnut Won't Compete in Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest Due to Conflict with Plant-Based Brand

Chestnut has competed in the Fourth of July eating competition for the past 16 years

<p>Erik Pendzich/Shutterstock</p> Joey Chestnut at Nathan

Erik Pendzich/Shutterstock

Joey Chestnut at Nathan's Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest in 2023

Joey Chestnut, who has been a fixture at the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest since 2007, won’t be chowing down in Coney Island, N.Y. this Fourth of July.

Due to a conflict with a plant-based brand, Chestnut, 40, is not eligible to participate, according to a statement from Major League Eating. Nathan’s, who has held the eating competition every year on Coney Island since 1979, does not allow their competitors to endorse a "rival brand."

"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 obtained by PEOPLE.

MLE did not name the competitor company but the The New York Post reports that the beef is over a partnership Chestnut has with Impossible Foods.

An Impossible Foods spokesperson tells PEOPLE in 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."

<p>Alexi J. Rosenfeld/Getty </p> Joey Chestnut competing in 2023

Alexi J. Rosenfeld/Getty

Joey Chestnut competing in 2023

Chestnut did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comments.

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"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," MLE continued in their statement. "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."

Related: Joey Chestnut Still Dines on Hot Dogs Year-Round: 'It's Rare for Them Not to Be in My Fridge'

<p>Eric Thayer/Getty </p> Joey Chestnut in 2016

Eric Thayer/Getty

Joey Chestnut in 2016

MLE also noted that the door to compete in Nathan’s famous event isn’t completely closed. “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.”

Chestnut has competed in every Nathan’s July 4 Hot Dog Eating contest since 2007, winning from 2007 to 2014, and then 2016 until 2023. He lost to Matt Stone in 2015. The competitive eater holds 16 titles for the Coney Island contest, earning him the Nathan’s Mustard Belt.

Related: Competitive Eater Takeru Kobayashi Announces He’s Retiring, Hopes to ‘Live a Long and Healthy Life'

According to his website, Chestnut holds the world record for over 40 eating contests, including ice cream sandwiches, hamburgers, glazed doughnuts, and Philly cheesesteaks.

Chestnut holds the world record for most hot dogs (and buns!) eaten in 10 minutes. In 2021, he downed 76 frankfurters in the Nathan’s competition. He most recently ate 62 hot dogs for the 2023 iteration of the contest.

Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest will still take place on July 4 in Coney Island.

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