Joey Chestnut Speaks Out After MLE Announced He Won’t Compete in Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest: ‘Very Disappointed’

“I love competing in that event, I love celebrating America with my fans all over this great country on the 4th," he said in a statement.

<p>Erik Pendzich/Shutterstock</p> Joey Chestnut in 2022

Erik Pendzich/Shutterstock

Joey Chestnut in 2022

Joey Chestnut was just as upset as his fans to find out that he will not be competing in the 2024 Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest.

On June 11, Major League Eating announced that Chestnut, 40, is not eligible to participate due to a conflict with a plant-based brand. Nathan’s, who has held the eating competition every year on Coney Island since 1979, does not allow their competitors to endorse a "rival brand." In response, Chestnut posted on Instagram sharing his dismay.

“I was very disappointed to learn from the media today that after nearly 20 years I am banned from the Nathan's 4th of July Hot Dog Eating Contest,” he wrote in the caption. “I love competing in that event, I love celebrating America with my fans all over this great country on the 4th and I have been training to defend my title.”

Major League Eating's initial statement claimed that "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 responded to those alleged contract logistics in his own statement.

“To set the record straight, I do not have a contract with MLE or Nathan's and they are looking to change the rules from past years as it relates to other partners I can work with,” he alleged. “This is apparently the basis on which I’m being banned, and it doesn’t impact the July 4th contest.”

Related: How Many Hot Dogs Can Joey Chestnut Eat? All About the Pro Eater — and Why He's Not Competing This Fourth of July

<p>Alexi J. Rosenfeld/Getty </p>

Alexi J. Rosenfeld/Getty

PEOPLE reached out to Major League Eating for comment on Chestnut’s response, but did not immediately hear back.

While MLE did not name the competitor company, the The New York Post reported that the conflict is over a partnership Chestnut has with Impossible Foods.

In a statement to PEOPLE, an Impossible Foods spokesperson said: "We love Joey and support him in any contest he chooses. It's OK to experiment with a new dog. Meat eaters shouldn't have to be exclusive to just one wiener."

Major League Eating's President Richard Shea clarified to NBC News that "there is no ban. Major League Eating wants him there. The fans want him there. Nathan’s wants him there.”

Shea likened the situation to "Michael Jordan saying to Nike, ‘I’m going to represent Adidas, too.’"

MLE also noted that the door to compete in Nathan’s famous event isn’t completely closed. “Joey Chestnut is an American hero. 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.”

<p>Steven Ferdman/WireImage</p> Joey Chestnut

Steven Ferdman/WireImage

Joey Chestnut

Related: Competitive Eater Takeru Kobayashi Announces He’s Retiring, Hopes to ‘Live a Long and Healthy Life'

Chestnut went on to claim that it's the fans who ultimately suffer from the situation as it stands. "It will deprive the great fans of the holiday’s usual joy and entertainment," he said. "To my fans, I love you and appreciate you. Rest assured that you’ll see me eat again soon. Stay tuned and STAY HUNGRY!"

Chestnut has competed in every Nathan’s July 4 Hot Dog Eating contest since 2007, winning from 2007 to 2014, and then 2016 until 2023. He lost to Matt Stone in 2015.

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