Weiner Wars: Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest organizer blames Joey Chestnut for ban

Joey Chestnut himself is to blame as he’s banned from Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest, organizer says  (AFP via Getty Images)
Joey Chestnut himself is to blame as he’s banned from Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest, organizer says (AFP via Getty Images)

Major League Eating, the organizer of the annual Nathan’s Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest, has spoken out about reigning champion Joey Chestnut not competing in the 2024 competition.

On Tuesday, June 11, it was announced that Chestnut, who has won the eating competition a total of 16 times, was not allowed to compete because of a deal he has with a Nathan’s competitor, Impossible Foods, which recently released a plant-based hot dog.

“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,” a statement from MLE said at the time, adding that they made accommodations for Chestnut to compete in a Labor Day hot dog eating contest that would not feature any specific brands.

The statement ended: “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 brand over our long-time relationship. 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. We hope he returns when he is not representing a rival brand.”

Chestnut went on to respond to the statement in an Instagram post, claiming that the rules were changed this year.

“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 contest,” he wrote on the platform.

“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 tuned and STAY HUNGRY!”

However, MLE has further clarified while speaking to The Independent that Chestnut has never been allowed to endorse another hot dog brand. “In return for his fees to appear and compete, Joey agreed every single year to a very simple exclusivity provision — that he would not endorse or sponsor another hot dog brand,” a representative for the organization said.

“The idea that Nathan’s or MLE changed the rules this year is as ridiculous as it is silly. What company would pay someone an appearance fee of several hundred thousand dollars and knowingly let them endorse a direct competitor immediately afterwards?”

“Joey was not banned,” the statement continued. “Joey chose not to compete in the contest the moment he chose to make an endorsement deal with one of Nathan’s competitors.”

In a statement to The Independent, an MLE spokesperson reiterated that Joey can be partnered with any food brand as long as it is not a hot dog brand and can still compete in hot dog eating contests that are not associated with a specific name brand.