Joey Chestnut Moves Hot Dog-Eating Showdown from Iconic Coney Island to Texas’ Fort Bliss

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The revered American professional competitive eater, Joey “Jaws” Chestnut, is shifting his battleground from the perennially famous 4th of July hot dog eating contest at Brooklyn’s Coney Island to Fort Bliss in Texas, where he will engage in a 5-minute hot dog-eating face-off against soldiers. The pivot to Texas comes amid a dispute with the organizers of the event that catapulted him into fame.

Since 2005, Chestnut has been competing fearlessly against the world’s creme de la creme of competitive eaters at the 10-minute Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July hot dog eating contest. With a vigorous winning streak uninterrupted since 2015, he astounded the world in 2021 by breaking his own record, devouring an astonishing 76 hot dogs in 10 minutes.

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The disagreement between Chestnut and the event organizers originated from a sponsorship conflict involving a deal with Impossible Foods, known for their planet-conscious plant-based hot dogs. Deprived of the opportunity to join in the contest he truly loved, Chestnut candidly expressed his desolation over the absence of the vibrant atmosphere and enthusiastic crowds at Coney Island.

In an impassioned phone interview on Thursday, Chestnut remembered wistfully, the zealous fans under the hot sun, who knew what to expect and cheered him on relentlessly. Their unabated enthusiasm fueled his performance. But fiercely determined, Chestnut refuses to wallow at home over the lost opportunity, expressing hope that the soldiers at Fort Bliss will incite the same kind of encouraging atmosphere.

With the fear of becoming complacent facing the amateur competition, Chestnut plans to challenge himself against the collective effort of four soldiers. He hopes that their teamwork might raise the stakes even higher, with the prospect of him possibly being outperformed.

Thursday witnessed Chestnut undergoing his customary fasting routine of water, lemon juice, and liquified calories in anticipation of the upcoming event at Fort Bliss. This grand-scale annual Independence Day celebration, “Pop Goes the Fort,” is expected to have a footfall of around 15,000 attendees, mostly consisting of soldiers and their families, as conveyed by the spokesperson of Fort Bliss Morale Welfare and Recreation organization, Marlo Brestar.

Apart from the eating contest, the celebratory event promises a splendid display of fireworks alongside performances by the El Paso Symphony Orchestra and the 1st Armored Division Band. Making his first visit to the arid landscape of El Paso, Chestnut envisions a trial run on Friday, followed by the ingestion of oils to ensure an unimpeded digestive process. He anticipates gleefully the prospect of potentially being atop a tank.

Fans missing Chestnut’s face-off with his usual rival, Takeru Kobayashi, can tune in to watch their showdown on Netflix in September. Not utterly disillusioned, Chestnut retains some hope for his return to the 4th of July circuit next year, whether via Netflix or back to the iconic Nathan’s Famous contest. To accomplish the latter, he needs to reconcile with the event organizers, Major League Eating, amidst his claims of feeling bullied by them.

Despite the disagreement, Major League Eating eventually ceded the sponsorship issue as per spokesperson George Shea. Even with this concession, the two parties couldn’t strike an agreement. Major League Eating, however, voiced support for Chestnut’s event at Fort Bliss, considering it a powerful tribute to the armed forces.