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What Was the Drama at the 2024 Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest?

Margaret Lipman
By
Published Jul 07, 2024
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For nearly two decades, the name Joey Chestnut has been synonymous with eating hot dogs—lots and lots of hot dogs. Chestnut, 40, is widely considered the world’s greatest professional eater (yes, that’s very much a thing). Though he has 55 world records, undoubtedly his biggest claim to fame is being the 16-time winner of the Nathan’s Famous International Hot Dog-Eating Contest, the iconic Coney Island competitive eating event that takes place annually on the 4th of July.

But this year, the contest, which is broadcast on ESPN, has a new men's champion: Patrick Bertoletti, who ate 58 hot dogs and buns during the 10-minute competition. Winning for the 10th time, Miki Sudo was the women’s champion, setting a new record with an incredibly impressive 51 hot dogs. The winners received $10,000 each in addition to the “mustard belt” for the men’s champ and the “pink belt” (amusingly sponsored by Pepto-Bismol) for the women’s champ. Chestnut was conspicuously absent, but not entirely by choice.

Like any sport, competitive eating contests have rules, and it appears that Chestnut violated a clause in the Nathan’s agreement by signing an endorsement deal with a rival hot dog brand. Interestingly, that company is Impossible Foods, which makes alternatives to meat products, including a new plant-based hot dog. Chestnut previously had a contract to endorse Nathan’s, but apparently switched to Impossible Foods rather than signing a new four-year deal with Nathan's that would have guaranteed him an annual $300,000 in appearance fees.

The ban probably won’t last forever, though. Chestnut, Nathan’s, and Major League Eating (the governing body of competitive eating) have all expressed a desire to see Chestnut return to Coney Island, perhaps as soon as next year, if they can work out their conflict with the endorsement deal. Though the details remain murky, it appears that Major League Eating reversed their initial ban on Chestnut competing in the Nathan’s contest this year, but Chestnut wants an apology before he appears again.

Rather than heading to Coney Island, Chestnut spent July 4th at the Fort Bliss military base in El Paso, Texas, competing in a hot dog-eating contest against four U.S. Army soldiers. He won with 57 hot dogs and buns, while the military team collectively consumed 49. Remarkably, he accomplished this feat in just five minutes—half as much time as he would have had at the Nathan’s competition. Chestnut streamed the event live on his YouTube channel, and Impossible Foods got involved by donating $1,000 for each hot dog consumed to the nonprofit Operation Homefront, which supports military families.

Hungry for more?

  • Fans won't have to wait long to see Chestnut in action again. On September 2, Chestnut and his longtime rival, Takeru Kobayashi (Chestnut unseated Kobayashi in his first Nathan’s victory in 2007), will take part in a live-streamed event on Netflix entitled Chestnut vs. Kobayashi: Unfinished Beef. Chestnut’s participation in the competition was approved by Major League Eating because the hot dogs will be unbranded, unlike in the Nathan’s contest.

  • In 2021, Chestnut set the Nathan’s record by eating 76 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes. Before this year’s ban, he was on an eight-year winning streak, having been victorious every year following Matthew Stonie’s upset in 2015. Chestnut was also the winner from 2007 to 2014.

  • Recruiting Chestnut for their marketing team seems like a logical step for Impossible Foods, which aims to attract meat-eaters to its plant-based products without necessarily guilting them into giving up on traditional animal products altogether.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Margaret Lipman
By Margaret Lipman
With years of experience as an educator, Margaret Lipman produces thoughtful and informative content across a wide range of topics. Her articles cover essential areas such as finance, parenting, health and wellness, nutrition, educational strategies. Margaret's writing is guided by her passion for enriching the lives of her readers through practical advice and well-researched information.
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Margaret Lipman
Margaret Lipman
With years of experience as an educator, Margaret Lipman produces thoughtful and informative content across a wide range...
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