Hot Dog Eating Champ Barred From Major Competition After Impossible Foods Partnership

Joey Chestnut gains Impossible Foods sponsorship, banned from Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest


3 Minutes Read

Hot dog eating champ Joey "Jaws" Chestnut doing a thumbs up at a competitive eating competition Joey "Jaws" Chestnut is a well-known competitive eater - Media Credit: SOPA Images Limited / Alamy Stock Photo

After accepting sponsorship from plant-based brand Impossible Foods, competitive eater Joey “Jaws” Chestnut will not participate in Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating contest in New York next month.

Read more: Impossible Foods Targets Meat-Eaters With New Red Branding

Major League Eating (MLE) – an organization that oversees professional competitive eating events – said that because Impossible Foods is a competitor brand to Nathan’s Famous, which sponsors the annual contest, Chestnut will be unable to participate.

“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,” said MLE in a statement.

MLE ranks Chestnut as the number one speed-eater, and describes him as “the greatest eater in history.” He also won Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest last year for the 16th time by consuming 62 hot dogs in just 10 minutes, beating Geoffrey Esper in second place by 13.

Joey Chestnut and other competitive hot dog eaters at a hot dog eating competition
ZUMA Press, Inc. / Alamy Stock Photo Chesnut (center) has spoken out about being barred from the competition

Writing on X (formerly Twitter), Chestnut said that he was “gutted” to learn about the ban from the media after nearly 20 years of competition at the televised event. He confirmed that he did not have a contract with Nathans or MLE.

MLE has stated that if Chestnut renounces his new partnership with Impossible Foods, he will be able to compete in the 2024 contest after all. “Joey Chestnut is an American hero,” added the organization. “We would love nothing more than to have him at the Nathan’s Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest.”

Read more: Is The Impossible Burger Vegan? The Debate Explained

‘It’s OK to experiment with a new dog’

It seems that Impossible’s plan to reach meat-eaters has worked well on Chestnut. The brand recently released an advert saying that it wants to “solve the meat problem with more meat” in the form of its animal-free products. Its plant-based “beef” hot dogs are relatively new, and Impossible emphasizes the health and environmental benefits of its meat-free dogs compared to traditional versions.

According to Impossible, its plant-based spin on “everyone’s favorite questionable food choice” boasts 12g of protein per hot dog and half the saturated fat of an animal-derived beef dog. Furthermore, they use 77 percent less water, 83 percent less land, and produce 84 percent less greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) due to the high impact of animal farming.

Read more: BBC Debate: ‘Why Isn’t Processed Meat Scrutinized Like Plant-Based Meat?’

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