Joey Chestnut banned from 2024 Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest due to vegan hot dog alliance

A partnership with a vegan company has the 16-time champ taking a seat for this year's competition.
2023 Nathans Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest
2023 Nathans Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest / Bobby Bank/GettyImages

In one of the more shocking stories of the day, 16-time champion Joey Chestnut will not compete in the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest. As for why? A partnership with a rival brand that sells plant-based hotdogs.

"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 Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest," Major League Eating (MLE) said in a statement.

Chestnut, who has won the contest every year since 2007 other than one, has signed with Impossible Foods. For those curious, it is a relatively new company that specializes in plant-based alternatives for vegans. But to be clear, it's less about the vegan versus meat thing than it is about him signing with another hot dog brand. After all, the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest is an American tradition -- but it's also an advertisement for Nathan's.

As for the competition, there is a void bigger than Chestnut's empty stomach without a figure that many consider the GOAT of professional eating. Last year's runner-up to Chestnut, Geoffrey Esper, consumed just 49 hot dogs and buns; compared to 62 from the champ.

Nathan's and MLE had previously worked with Chestnut to make several accommodations to his schedule, including allowing him to participate in an out-of-competition hot dog eating contest on Labor Day. However, it seems like aligning with Impossible Foods was one footlong too far.

With the competition in less than a month, questions surround the event, particularly as Chestnut is an international icon and big TV draw. With Chesnut the only household name, ratings could likely take a hit as well. But the big question is how do you account for the loss of someone who has dominated professional eating beyond hot dogs?

With this being a pretty slow time in sports, many sports fans turn to this event as something to combat the dog days of summer, pun very much intended. There is something patriotic about watching grown men dip hot dogs in water and eat so many that they smell like it for weeks that makes you want to stand up and salute the flag.

Personally? I'm unsure if I will be tuning in to this one without Chestnut. And to be frank about it, I'm sad that plant-based hot dogs are the reason we can't see a GOAT compete this year. That, if nothing else, seems impossible.

Next. Oh, I wish I were an Oscar Mayer Bacon Cheddar Popcorn. Oh, I wish I were an Oscar Mayer Bacon Cheddar Popcorn. dark