When I think of the 4th of July, visions of beach days, barbecue, and basking in the sun flood my mind. But the perfect recipe for this day always includes one key ingredient: Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest. Taking place on Coney Island each year, this infamous competition has brought contestants from all over the nation to test their eating abilities. Given a time period of 10 minutes, contestants must see how many hot dogs and buns they can fill their stomachs with in hopes of being the winner. You may recognize the name Joey Chestnut, who holds the world record of most hot dogs eaten. A total of 76 hot dogs in 10 minutes, which got him another mustard belt in 2021 to add to his collection. His title reigns supreme as Chestnut has come in first place for the men’s competition in 16 out of the last 17 he has competed in. He’s put up previous numbers like 62 hot dogs in 10 minutes, which unsurprisingly got him another spot in first place. While fans look forward to seeing Chestnut stuff his face with hot dogs at this annual event, sadly that won’t be the case this year. 

What happened between Nathan’s and Chestnut?

Major League Eating announced that Chestnut was barred from participating in the 2024 competition after he accepted a sponsorship from a rival hot dog brand, Impossible Foods. Impossible Foods produces plant-based meat products that are used at corporations including Burger King and Starbucks to provide meatless food options for customers. This includes Burger King’s Impossible Whoppers. Impossible Foods planned to release meatless hot dogs this year and partnered with Chestnut in hopes of bringing more publicity and attention to their brand. Chestnut’s new sponsorship with a brand other than Nathan’s has violated exclusive brand policies maintained by Major League Eating over the last 20 years.

Why was Chestnut already in hot water?

According to the MLE, Chestnut had already been pushing boundaries with the Nathan’s brand before his chance to compete for a 17th win this year. The organization allowed Chestnut to participate in a rival hot-dog eating competition which took place over Labor Day weekend and was also being filmed by Netflix. Under the company’s conditions, no hot dog brand was mentioned in the special, but the MLE felt they were going to far lengths to meet Chestnut’s demands already. Chestnut was also requesting to be paid an appearance fee for his attendance at this year’s Nathan’s competition. Tensions finally boiled over once Chestnut had accepted this sponsorship with an alternative hot-dog brand.

What does Joey have to say about this?

Chestnut reached out to fans over X and expressed his sadness over not being able to compete at this holiday event. He clarified that he does not have any contract with the Nathan’s brand or the MLE, but encouraged fans to keep their heads up as he aims to be eating again for crowds everywhere.