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Michael Malone

Joey Chestnut Out of Nathan’s Hot Dog-Eating Contest

Joey Chestnut in 2019.

Joey Chestnut, hot dog eating champ, said he is “banned” from the Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Championship this year. “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,” said @JoeyJaws on X. 

George Shea, chairman of Major League Eating, which oversees the event, countered that Chestnut is not banned, but has signed with what he called “a rival brand.”

MLE said in a statement, “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.”

Shea hosts the event, which happens in Coney Island, New York, July 4. It is held at the flagship Nathan’s on the corner of Surf and Stillwell Avenues. 

ESPN televises the hot dog-eating championship

In a subsequent post, Chestnut said, “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.”

MLE countered, “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. 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 won last year’s hot dog-eating championship with 62. The runner-up, Geoffrey Esper, had 49. Miki Sudo won the women’s event with 39.5. 

Chestnut holds the hot dog record, with 76, in 10 minutes, in 2021. He has 16 wins in the hot dog event. 

Sudo has the women’s record with 48.5. 

Chestnut is ranked No. 1 among Major League Eating talent. MLE called him “an American hero,” and 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.” 

On July 4, the women face off at 11 a.m. in Coney Island and the men at 12:30. 

Shea told B+C he remains hopeful a deal can be worked out to have Chestnut compete. “If we can work it out we would love to have him there,” he said. “We have been trying to resolve this and will continue trying.”

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