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Joey Chestnut not competing at Nathans Hot Dog Eating Contest in fight over vegan dogs

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(NEW YORK) — The Nathan’s Fourth of July hot dog eating contest no longer cuts the mustard for all-time eating great Joey Chestnut.

The 16-time winner of the contest, including every year since 2016, will not be competing at this year’s contest, according to Major League Eating. And it’s all over his decision to endorse vegan hot dogs instead of Nathan’s.

“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,” Major League Eating said in a statement.

Nathan’s, the venerable Coney Island hot dog brand, has long required eaters not to endorse a rival brand if they are going to compete in the country’s most famous eating contest.

“MLE and Nathan’s went to great lengths in recent months to accommodate Joey and his management team, agreeing to the appearance fee and allowing Joey to compete in a rival unbranded hot dog eating contest on Labor Day,” Major League Eating said 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.”

Chestnut, 40, won the contest every year from 2007 to 2014 and then every year from 2016 to 2023. Matt Stone won the contest in 2015, eating 62 dogs to Chestnut’s 60.

Chestnut still holds the record for most hot dogs — and buns — consumed in 10 minutes with 76 eaten in 2021.

Major League Eating said it will still take back the hot dog eating champ — if he drops his other endorsement deal.

“Joey Chestnut is an American hero,” the league said. “We would love nothing more than to have him at the Nathan’s Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest, which he has dominated for years. We hope that he returns when he is not representing a rival brand.”

The Nathan’s contest has been held every Fourth of July since 1979.

ABC News’ Alex Faul contributed to this report.

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