'Greatest Eater In History' Might Not Participate In Hot Dog Competition

The “greatest eater in history” apparently won’t be participating in Nathan’s Famous hot dog eating contest this summer.

Professional devourer Joey Chestnut is a 16-time winner of the hot dog eating contest on New York’s Coney Island, having set a world record at the 2021 contest by scarfing down 76 dogs and buns in 10 minutes. But the eating champ has reportedly inked an endorsement deal with the Impossible Foods brand, which sells vegan hot dogs.

Major League Eating, which hosts the century-old hot dog eating contest and many other competitions of gluttony, addressed the deal in a statement Tuesday.

“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,” MLE wrote, calling Chestnut an “American hero.”

“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,” the statement said.

The New York Post broke the news, but other reports have attempted to clarify whether or not Chestnut can participate.

“There is no ban. Major League Eating wants him there. The fans want him there. Nathan’s wants him there,” Richard Shea from MLE told NBC News.

Chestnut put out his own statement in a thread on X, formerly Twitter, claiming he learned that he couldn’t participate from the press: “To set the record straight, I do not have a contract with MLE or Nathan’s 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.”

“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,” he added. “To my fans, I love you and appreciate you. Rest assured that you’ll see me eat again soon!! STAY HUNGRY!”

In an interview with The New York Times, George Shea, the promoter of the contest, compared Chestnut’s deal to a hypothetical situation in which basketball legend Michael Jordan signed deals with both Nike and Adidas: “It just can’t happen.”