Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest is an annual tradition and competitive eater Joey Chestnut is the reigning champion. However, the 2024 competition won’t include the California native and fans are curious why he was banned from the contest.

Why Is Joey Chestnut Banned From Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest?

Major League Eating (MLE) made the decision to ban Joey from the 2024 competition because of his partnership with rival plant-based meat brand Impossible Foods. The organization released a statement on June 11, 2024, regarding their decision.

“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,” the statement read. “MLE and Nathan’s went to great lengths in recent months to accommodate Joey and his management team, agreeing to their appearance fee requests 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.”

Can the Decision to Ban Joey Chestnut From Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest Be Reversed?

Yes, the MLE stated that if Joey ended his partnership with Impossible Foods, they would allow him to return and compete in the 2024 Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest.

“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,” the organization said. “There is still the opportunity for him to choose Nathan’s and July 4th over the plant-based hot dog, and return to the adoring fans of Coney Island. We hope that he returns when he is not representing a rival brand.”

Reps for Impossible Foods reached out to In Touch in regards to the MLE’s decision.

“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.”

Joey Chestnut’s Response to Hot Dog Eating Contest Ban

Joey addressed the MLE’s decision via X on June 11, 2024.

Why Is Joey Chestnut Banned From Hot Dog Eating Contest?
Alexi J. Rosenfield / Getty Images

“I was gutted to learn from the media that after 19 years I’m banned from the Nathan’s July 4th Hot Dog Eating Contest. 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,” Joey wrote in a thread of social media posts. “To set the record straight, 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, and it doesn’t impact the July 4th event.”

He concluded, “​​Sadly, this is the decision Nathan’s and Major League Eating are making, and it will deprive the great fans of the holiday’s usual joy and entertainment. To my fans, I love you and appreciate you. Rest assured that you’ll see me eat again soon!! STAY HUNGRY!”

Joey’s won the competition every year since 2016, and he holds the world record for most hot dogs eaten during Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest with 74 in 2021. In 2023, Joey walked away as the winner with 62 hot dogs consumed.

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