Hot Dog Eating Champion Joey Chestnut Skips Nathan’s Contest, Takes on Army Soldiers in Beefy Showdown

El Paso, Texas – The absence of hot dog eating champion Joey Chestnut from the annual Nathan’s Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest has left fans wondering what will become of the iconic event. Chestnut, who has won the coveted “Mustard Yellow Belt” 16 times and holds the world record for eating 76 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes, has decided to skip this year’s competition after striking a deal with plant-based food company Impossible Foods.

While Chestnut may be missing from Coney Island this year, he is not sitting idly by on Independence Day. The 40-year-old will be participating in an “all-beef” hot dog eating event at Fort Bliss base in El Paso, Texas. This event, aimed at raising money for military families, will see Chestnut competing against four US Army soldiers in a five-minute challenge.

In the midst of Chestnut’s absence, the women’s division of the hot dog eating contest kicked off in style with reigning champion Miki Sudo setting a new record by devouring 51 hot dogs and buns, beating her closest competitor by 14 hot dogs to secure her 10th title at the event. Sudo expressed her excitement after surpassing the 50 mark and looks forward to defending her title next year.

While Nathan’s competition will be broadcast on ESPN, with the women’s event scheduled to start at 10:45 a.m. ET and the men’s event at 12 p.m. ET, Chestnut’s personal challenge will be livestreamed on his YouTube channel starting at 5 p.m. ET. The Major League Eating (MLE) organization, which oversees the event, emphasized that Chestnut is not banned for life from competing, but he must refrain from representing rival brands if he wishes to return to the Nathan’s Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest.

In a statement, MLE referred to Chestnut as an American hero and expressed a desire to have him back at the competition in the future. Chestnut himself addressed the situation on X, explaining that he does not have a contract with MLE or Nathan’s and they are looking to change the rules regarding his partnerships. The authenticity of Chestnut’s statement on X has not been independently confirmed.

Ultimately, Chestnut’s absence from the hot dog eating contest this year has created a buzz among fans and competitors alike, raising questions about the future of the prestigious event without the reigning champion’s presence.