No-ey Chestnut! Reigning champ of Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest banned from 2024 showing

Joey Chestnut will not return for the 2024 Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest, officials confirmed Tuesday.
File photo by Dean Moses

All he can’t eat!

Joey Chestnut, the chow-down champ with 16 Nathan’s Famous hot dog-devouring victories under his belt, will not return for this year’s annual all-you-can-eat competition in Coney Island.

The professional eater has been banned from the 2024 Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest due to his decision to represent a rival brand, officials confirmed Tuesday.

Major League Eating, the organization behind the beloved Fourth of July tradition, said they recently tried to work with Chestnut’s management company by agreeing to an appearance fee and allowing him to compete in other contests.

But, to be frank, they just couldn’t make the partnership work any longer.

“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 representative for MLE told Brooklyn Paper in a statement. “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 New York Post reported that the beef stems from a new partnership between Chestnut and Impossible Foods, which recently launched a vegan frank.

Joey Chestnut has won the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest in Coney Island each year since 2016.File photo by Dean Moses

The Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest, an American staple since 1916, has in recent years become inseparable from the mention of Chestnut, who has established himself as the one to beat in the annual frank-fest since 2016. In 2023, he tried to beat his personal best of 73 dogs and buns, but only swallowed 62. Still, the California native came out on top.

He apologized to the rain-soaked crowd, promising to be back in 2024 to top himself. “I will find a way to do it,” he said.

The reigning champ may have been on roll but now, another eater has a chance to take the number one spot. Still, reps for MLE — which runs the contest on behalf of Nathan’s — hope to see their titleholder return.

“Joey Chestnut is an American hero,” MLE’s statement read on. “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. We hope that he returns when he is not representing a rival brand.”

In a post on social media Tuesday night, Chestnut said he learned of his disqualification through the media.

“I was very disappointed to learn from the media today that after nearly 20 years I am banned from the Nathan’s 4th of July Hot Dog Eating Contest,” he wrote on Instagram .”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.”

“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,” he went on. “This is apparently the basis on which I’m being banned, and it doesn’t impact the July 4th contest. 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.”

Chestnut ended the post with a promise.

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

This year’s Hot Dog Eating Contest is scheduled for Thursday, July 4 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the iconic Nathan’s Famous flagship restaurant at the corner of Surf and Stillwell avenues.

Update (June 12, 9 a.m.): This story was updated to include comment from Joey Chestnut.