Hot Dog King Banned from Competing After Going Vegan (3 Photos + 1 Video)

Category: Food, PEGI 0+
17 June 2024

Joey Chestnut has become the undisputed king of eating sausage rolls. He lost only once in 2007, and 14 years later he managed to swallow a record 76 pieces.

Longtime winner of the annual "Nathan's Hot Dog" eating contest produced by the American fast food chain Nathan's Famous, Joey Chestnut gave up the beef buns this year because of a deal he struck to represent another brand, Impossible Foods.

The lean meat producer is known for its burger, which contains a lab-synthesized substance called heme. The company also recently released a fake sausage “made from plants.”

A California native, Chestnut has won the hot dog eating contest 16 times. He devoured a record 76 “sandwiches” in 2021 and even managed to retain his title after eating a measly 62 last year.

A spokesman for Major League Eating, which runs the competition, said organizers tried their best to accommodate Chestnut's various demands. They even agreed to let him participate in a rival Labor Day hot dog eating festival that would be taped for television, as long as no brand of hot dog was mentioned. However, they can't allow the champion to promote another hot dog brand.

Chestnut was paid $200,000 to compete in Nathan's last year and was offered a four-year, $1.2 million contract. The parties can still reach an agreement, but there is little time left - until July 4.

"He's the Michael Jordan of competitive eating. But imagine if Michael Jordan told Nike, 'I love being the face of Nike, but I also want to be in an Adidas commercial,'" the source said.

In a statement, MLE said: "We are devastated to learn that Joey Chestnut has chosen to represent a competing brand that sells plant-based hot dogs rather than compete in Nathan's famous Hot Dog Eating Contest on the Fourth of July 2024... For nearly two decades, we have operated under the same basic tenets of hot dog exclusivity. However, it appears that Joey and his management have prioritized a new partnership with another brand over our long-standing relationship... Joey Chestnut is an American hero to us. We'd love to have him at the Nathan's International Hot Dog Eating Contest. We hope he returns once he's no longer representing a competing brand."

If Chestnut leaves for good, bookmakers will name Jeffrey Esper, who finished second last year after eating 49 hot dogs, as this year's favorite.

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