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New York hot dog champ out of contest over plant-based brand deal

Joey Chestnut set a world record in winning the Nathan's Famous Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest on Coney Island in New York in 2022 -- but this year, he is out of the competition (Yuki IWAMURA)
Joey Chestnut set a world record in winning the Nathan's Famous Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest on Coney Island in New York in 2022 -- but this year, he is out of the competition (Yuki IWAMURA)

Competitive eating legend Joey Chestnut is as much a part of July 4th celebrations in New York as the city 's massive annual fireworks display, wolfing down dozens of hot dogs each year in the contest sponsored by fast food company Nathan's.

But his long reign as the King of Coney Island has come to an acrimonious end: Chestnut will not compete in the 2024 event after reaching a deal with plant-based company Impossible Foods, a direct competitor to Nathan's.

"We are devastated to learn that Joey Chestnut has chosen to represent a rival brand... rather than competing in the 2024 Nathan's Famous Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest," Major League Eating, which organizes the event, said in a statement.

"It seems that Joey and his managers have prioritized a new partnership with a different hot dog brand over our long-time relationship," it said, while nevertheless calling Chestnut an "American hero."

Chestnut, 40, is the top-ranked competitive eater in the world, according to Major League Eating.

He has won the Nathan's contest on July 4 -- which draws thousands of fans each year -- a total of 16 times, including in 2021, when he set a world record by eating 76 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes.

He holds dozens of world records in eating everything from asparagus to gyoza, according to the Major League Eating website.

Chestnut said on social media that he was "gutted" about the decision by Nathan's not to allow him to compete, and suggested organizers were "looking to change the rules from past years as it relates to other partners I can work with."

"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," Chestnut said on X, formerly Twitter, and Instagram.

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

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