Hot Dog King Joey Chestnut Banned from 4th of July Contest Over Rival Sponsorship

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In an unforeseen blow to the tradition of Independence Day gluttony, Joey Chestnut, recognized as the most triumphant competitor in eating contests, who grasped victory in the highly revered Nathan’s Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest a staggering 16 times, and who was widely seen as the most likely to claim his ninth consecutive title in the upcoming month, will not grace Coney Island with his presence this 4th of July.

Bathed in anticipation, Coney Island’s boardwalk traditionally serves as the stage for Major League Eating’s (MLE) most-anticipated annual spectacle on America’s Independence Day. This year, however, the event faces an unexpected setback. The producers of the 10-minute hot dog devouring contest, Nathan’s in collaboration with MLE, have announced a pained decision – the exclusion of the revered hot dog champion, Joey Chestnut. The renowned competitor, now 40 years old, recently irked the authorities by aligning with Impossible Foods, a rival to Nathan’s, in a bid to promote the company’s innovative plant-based hot dogs.

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The dismayed officials at MLE responded to this development with a sense of distress, “We are shattered to realize that this Independence Day, our hot dog eating contest will transpire without Joey Chestnut. With him choosing to represent a competitor’s plant-based hot dogs, our long cherished relationship seems to be depreciating in value”.

In a bid to accord flexibility to Joey and his team, MLE and Nathan’s concurred on his appearance fee and even permitted him to participate in a rival hot dog eating contest on Labor Day. They, however, could not reconcile with his recent partnership choice which showed a tendency to prioritize over the longstanding bond they shared.

Joey expressed his profoundly shocked response on receiving the news of his ban from the media, “I am absolutely crestfallen. It has been almost two decades of my association with the Nathan’s July 4th Hot Dog Eating Contest. I cherish that event deeply, celebrating America with my fans and fiercely defending my title every year”. He however, has refuted having any formal agreement with MLE or Nathan’s, and is of the belief that the main concern is his allegiance with Impossible. He also conveyed his apprehension that the contest authorities were looking for an opportunity to change their traditional rules regarding partner associations.

Nevertheless, MLE and Nathan’s have stated there’s still a glimmer of hope for a potential resolution that could see Chestnut return to compete. Although, it would certainly hinge on Chestnut relenting from his ongoing partnership with Impossible.

Meanwhile, with no Chestnut to contend with, Geoffrey Esper has emerged as the new hot favorite for the contest.

An audience favorite, Chestnut has dominated the world of competitive eating since his debut in 2006. His crowning achievement of gobbling down 66 hot dogs and buns in just 12 minutes (a timeframe that has since been curtailed to 10 minutes) in the Nathan’s event solidified his position as the undisputed king. In 2021, he managed to create a new Nathan’s record by demolishing 76 hot dogs and buns.

In last year’s competition, given Chestnut’s impressive track record, bookies were hesitant to accept bets on him. BetMGM platform in New Jersey, placed odds at -5000 for Chestnut to win. Despite the stacked odds equating to a winning likelihood of 98%, and thus diminishing the punters’ returns to a meager $2 on a $100 bet, Chestnut prevailed and wolfed down 62 hot dogs and buns. His runner-up, Esper, fell short with 49 hot dogs. With the untimely exit of Chestnut this year, a significant shift in the dynamics of the competition is expected.