In the dog-house: Fans petition to bring champ Joey Chestnut back to hot dog eating contest, Netflix announces Kobayashi showdown

Devout Joey Chestnut fans are petitioning to reverse his ban in the upcoming Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest’s — meanwhile, Netflix aims to help the professional eater settle the score with a former rival.
File photo by Paul Frangipane

“Joey Chestnut inspires humanity. “

“There is nothing that justifies the ban.”

“His presence elevates the sport.”

These are just some of the cries from fans nationwide after sponsors of the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest announced that 16-time champion Joey Chestnut would not be returning for the 2024 competition, citing a ban due to his recent partnership with a rival brand of franks.

Days after Chestnut’s disqualification was announced, heartbroken fans started circulating online petitions to keep him in the running, claiming that it’s unreasonable to have the contest’s top performer exiled from the annual event. 

Joey Chestnut will not return for the 2024 Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest, officials confirmed Tuesday — but fans are hoping officials will reverse that decision. File photo by Dean Moses

August Truesdale, a fan out of California, watches the Fourth of July event each year. Between cookouts and swimming, he and his friends always tune into the competition to see Chestnut scarf down as many hot dogs as he can handle.

Truesdale’s online campaign, which compares the professional eater to other major athletes like Michael Jordan and Tom Brady, stresses how surprised and confused some longtime fans are with the decision to ban Chestnut.

“It’s kind of shocking that he was barred from it just because of who he was partnering with. It’s interesting that you’d bar the apex performer. It’s a little petty and silly,” Truesdale told Brooklyn Paper, noting how many fans tune in just to watch Chestnut. “I don’t know if they realize the repercussions this will have.”

As of June 13, at least 16 petitions in favor of a reverse ban were gaining traction online.

One common message is clear: Chestnut’s name is nearly synonymous with the competition. That’s why Joey Heimel, another petitioner, thinks this ban comes down to the sponsor’s looking “to cause a stir.”

“They might be starting to realize they are making a big mistake by not allowing the best athlete of all time to compete,” he said. “After all, Nathan’s hot dogs are nothing without Joey Chestnut. If this shows anything, it shows a negative and selfish relationship that Nathan’s has with its fans and sponsors.”

Major League Eating — the sponsoring organization that runs the contest on behalf of Nathan’s — responded to news of Chestnut’s ban, first reported by the New York Post, with disappointment.

“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.”

Nathan’s Famous did not respond to a request for comment.

Chestnut was apparently as surprised by the news as the journalists reporting on it. In a post on social media Tuesday night, the hot dog connoisseur 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.”

The California native promised to eat again soon — after all, he’s got some unsettled beef.

Chestnut vs. Kobayashi

Chestnut’s beef isn’t just with Major League Eating — it’s his unsettled score with rival Takeru Kobayashi that fans are talking about.

Just one day after news broke of Chestnut’s ban from the annual frank-fest, streaming service Netflix announced that he would be taking on Kobayashi — six-time contest champ and Chestnut’s fiercest rival — in “Chestnut vs. Kobayashi: Unfinished Beef,” a live all-you-can-eat match between the two. 

Joey Chestnut and Takeru Kobayashi to face-off in Netflix special.
Joey Chestnut and Takeru Kobayashi are set to face off in a Netflix special on Sept. 2, the streaming service announced. File photo by Gersh Kuntzman

Kobayashi was the undisputed winner of the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest from 2001 to 2006, before Chestnut ended that reign in 2007. Since then, the two professionals have been revered as the ones to beat. 

“Through all of my years in competitive eating, Kobayashi stands out as my fiercest rival,” Chestnut said in a statement. “Competing against him pushed me to be so much better. I know that fans have waited a long time for another chapter of our rivalry and I can’t wait for our massive showdown live on Netflix. It’s time to give the people what they want.”

Kobayashi has taken a back seat to competitive eating in recent years but on Sept. 2, he’ll return to see if can be re-crowned top dog.

“This rivalry has been brewing for a long time,” he said. “Competing against Joey live on Netflix means fans all over the world can watch me knock him out.”

The two will meat again on Labor Day, Sept. 2, and fans can catch the contest streaming live on Netflix. The time and location of the event have yet to be announced.