Joey Chestnut Reveals Next Move After Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest Ban

Mario Tama/Getty Images
Mario Tama/Getty Images

Where’s the beef? Only on Netflix, of course.

A clash of the titans is being cooked up by the streaming giant, which announced on Wednesday that it plans to pit two men—inarguably, the best in the world at shoving hot dogs down their gullets—against one another in a winner-take-all battle later this year.

The live special, Chestnut vs. Kobayashi: Unfinished Beef, will see Joey Chestnut and “fiercest rival” Takeru Kobayashi face off for the first time in 15 years.

“Through all of my years in competitive eating, Kobayashi stands out as my fiercest rival,” a press release quotes Chestnut as saying. “Competing against him pushed me to be so much better. I know that fans have waited a long time for another chapter of our rivalry and I can’t wait for our massive showdown live on Netflix! It’s time to give the people what they want!”

Notably, the announcement arrives steaming-hot, less than 24 hours after the news that Chestnut, 40, had been banned from the 2024 Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest sent shockwaves reverberating across the competitive eating world.

Major League Eating, which organizes the iconic Coney Island event, said that Chestnut would not be allowed to compete because of a partnership with another hot dog brand.

“For nearly two decades we have worked under the same basic hot dog exclusivity provisions,” the league said. “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 has won the contest an unprecedented 16 times since his first appearance in 2005. He swallowed a gut-busting 76 franks and buns in 2021, and defended his Mustard Yellow Belt last year with another impressive 62.

He said on Wednesday that he’d been “gutted” by the news of his ban, which he said had taken him by surprise. “To set the record straight,” the champ explained in a social media statement, “I do not have a contract with MLE or Nathans and they are looking to change the rules from past years as it relates to other partners I can work with.”

Joey Chestnut ‘Gutted’ After Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest Ban

Though neither Major League Eating nor Chestnut named the new sponsor in his life, a spokesperson for the plant-based brand Impossible Foods confirmed their partnership in a statement to The Daily Beast, insisting they plan to back their boy no matter what.

“We love Joey and support him in any contest he chooses,” the spokesperson said. “It’s OK to experiment with a new dog. Meat eaters shouldn’t have to be exclusive to just one wiener.”

Though Chestnut remains dominant on the hot dog eating circuit, Kobayashi is no slouch. He won the Nathan’s contest every year from 2001 to 2006 and is widely credited with bringing his sport into the mainstream. He tied Chestnut in 2008 with 59 dogs, only to lose in an “eat-off” round that saw Chestnut “complete” five dogs in 50 seconds, with Kobayashi finishing his five a mere seven seconds later.

The pair last competed against one another in 2009. A year later, Kobayashi was himself banned from Nathan’s, reportedly over a similar dispute to do with exclusivity rights.

He was arrested at that summer’s contest. After Chestnut was declared the winner, having chowed down on 54 dogs in 10 minutes, fans in the arena began chanting Kobayashi’s name, adding “Let him eat!” for good measure. The Japanese eater, wearing a “Free Kobi” T-shirt, climbed onstage to a reportedly rapturous reception.

He was charged with resisting arrest, trespassing, and obstruction of governmental affairs. A spokesperson denied that the stage-rush had been a publicity stunt, and a Nathan’s representative called the matter “inappropriate and unfortunate.”

Kobayashi, now 46, announced his retirement due to health reasons last month. It seems now that those golden-year plans will be put on the back burner until after Labor Day, however.

“Retiring for me will only happen after I take him down one last time,” the legend said in Netflix’s press release. “This rivalry has been brewing for a long time. Competing against Joey live on Netflix means fans all over the world can watch me knock him out.”

Unfinished Beef will stream live on Sept. 2. Its location and time slot will be announced at a later date.

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