Pro 'Eater' Joey Chestnut Endorses Vegan Hotdogs, Promptly Gets Banned From 4th of July Contest

AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

Say it ain’t so, Joe! 

The widely attributed plaintive plea directed at Shoeless Joe Jackson by a dirty-faced kid likely never happened but a similar plea should be directed at meatless Joey Chestnut. Joey Chestnut has been a staple at Coney Island’s Fourth of July hotdog eating contest since 2016. But Joey has switched teams. In a betrayal rivaling Benedict Arnold turning his coat, Joey swapped allegiance from Nathan’s meat hotdog to meatless dogs.


The New York Post is reporting the sad news.

A rep for Major League Eating (MLE), which Nathan’s sanctions to run the event, said the organizers bent over backwards to meet Chestnut’s various other demands. They even agreed to let him participate in a rival Labor Day dog-eating fest  to be taped by Netflix as long as no hot dog brand was mentioned.

But they said they drew the line on letting Chestnut pitch for a different dog.

A source said Chestnut was paid $200,000 to appear in the Nathan’s contest last year, and was offered a $1.2 million, four-year contract going forward.  

MLE said in a statement: “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."

Chestnut took the money from a rival hotdog maker called Impossible Foods. Impossible seems about right. That company makes a “frank” that isn’t made of meat. It’s a plant-based imposter. I don’t know about you, but making a “frankfurter” that isn’t made of meat is like claiming you drink milk that came from almonds. Maybe Chestnut should pick up an endorsement for competitive tofu eating. Maybe quiche. I don’t like hotdogs or apple pie, but damn it, they're American.  


“Professional eating” is monumentally stupid. I think the concept of stuffing your face with 50 + hotdogs is disgusting. It isn’t a sport. But damn it, at least Coney Island’s Fourth of July hotdog eating contest uses an American staple: hotdogs. And hotdogs mean meat, or at least meat byproducts, or something that was meat-adjacent at some point.

Eating anything to excess isn’t a sport. Chestnut’s chief rival was a dude named Kobayashi. He had to quit “competitive eating” because he got arthritis in his jaw. 

Kobayashi said that his stomach expands so much that it compresses his lungs, and he gets short of breath. 

Now that the MLE has lost its most famous professional gorger of food, maybe the sponsors of Coney Island’s annual event should return to its roots. Get rid of the “pros” and pull people from the crowd. A couple of corn-fed fatties and a few drunk guys who are goaded into showing off for their dates. 


I’d watch that. I’d tune in for the inevitable crash. Like a NASCAR race, I’d watch just to see the predictable carnage, with one or more amateurs stuffing too many dogs down their throats and their stomachs revolting to the revolting excess. 

As it stands, I will engage in my annual tradition of ignoring Nathan’s Famous Hotdog Eating contest. 


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