Joey Chestnut: The hot dog champion was banned from participating in Nathan’s Vegetarian Shepherd’s Contest

Image source, Getty Images

  • author, Max Matza
  • Role, BBC News

Competitive eating star Joey “Jaws” Chestnut has been told he cannot join America’s number one hot dog competition after striking a deal with a vegan brand.

His exclusion from next month’s Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest in New York came after he agreed to sponsor Impossible Foods, a plant-based hot dog maker that competes with the Nathan’s brand.

“We were shocked to learn that Joey Chestnut chose to represent a competing brand that sells plant-based hot dogs rather than compete in Nathan’s Famous 4th of July Hot Dog Eating Contest,” Major League Eating (MLE) said Tuesday.

The MLE added that Mr Chestnut was welcome to rejoin the competition, but only if he relinquished his plant sponsorship.

“Joey Chestnut is an American hero. We’d love nothing more than to have him participate in the famous Nathan’s International Hot Dog Eating Contest,” the statement read.

“We hope he comes back when he’s no longer representing a competing brand.”

Mr Chestnut has won the Nathan’s competition, which is televised in the US, 16 times.

The rules of the competition, which is attended by about 40,000 people a year, require competitors to eat as many hot dogs (and buns) as possible within 10 minutes.

Mr Chestnut, 40, holds the world record for eating hot dogs, having parodied a whopping 76 in the 2021 competition.

Chestnut said on social media that he was “shocked” when he learned of the ban, adding that he was “training to defend himself.” [his] Title”.

“To be clear, I do not have a contract with MLE or Nathans and they are looking to change the rules from previous years in terms of other partners I can work with,” he said.

The MLE said she and Nathan “made great efforts” to accommodate Joey, but it appears he and his managers “prioritized a new partnership.”

The Fourth of July contest has been held every year since Polish immigrant Nathan Handwerker opened his stand on Coney Island in 1916.

The story goes that on July 4, 1916 — the year the famous Nathan’s Hot Dog Company was founded — four European immigrants were arguing over who among them was more American. They decide to settle the matter with a hot dog eating contest.

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