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The Major League Eating organization announced that it will be parting ways with 16-time champion Joey “Jaws” Chestnut before this year’s Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July hot dog eating contest. This decision comes after Chestnut decided to represent a competitor brand that sells plant-based hot dogs, breaking the longstanding relationship he had with MLE.

According to a source familiar with the matter, MLE offered Chestnut a $1.2 million, four-year contract to continue participating in the hot dog eating competition. However, the relationship came to an end when Chestnut aligned himself with a rival brand that offers plant-based alternatives. This move did not sit well with MLE, leading to the termination of their contract with Chestnut.

The brand that Chestnut chose to associate with is Impossible Foods, a company known for its plant-based hot dogs. Impossible Foods claims that their hot dogs are healthier and more eco-friendly than traditional meat-based hot dogs, boasting reduced saturated fat content and lower greenhouse gas emissions by a significant margin. This shift in preference by Chestnut raised eyebrows within the competitive eating community.

The decision to cut ties with Chestnut comes at a time when the popularity of hot dogs is declining due to changing consumer preferences. With a growing emphasis on health-conscious eating habits and wellness trends, traditional processed foods like hot dogs are facing a decrease in sales. This shift in consumer behavior is forcing companies like Nathan’s Famous to reevaluate their marketing strategies and product offerings.

Despite the fallout with MLE and Nathan’s Famous, Joey Chestnut remains a legendary figure in the world of competitive eating. Holding the Guinness World Record for consuming the most hot dogs in 10 minutes, Chestnut has become a household name through his dominance at the annual hot dog eating contest. His absence at this year’s event will undoubtedly be felt by fans and competitors alike.

As Major League Eating and Nathan’s Famous move forward without Joey Chestnut, the landscape of competitive eating competitions may see a shift in dynamics. The decision to sever ties with a longstanding champion has sent shockwaves through the industry, raising questions about loyalty, branding, and the evolving preferences of consumers. Only time will tell how this decision will impact the future of the hot dog eating contest and competitive eating as a whole.

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