Joey Chestnut and Nathan’s Hot Dogs Part Ways Over Rival Brand Deal

The world of competitive hot dog eating was torn asunder on Tuesday by a divorce of almost unimaginable proportions. Major League Eating, the governing body of whatever sort of sport this is, said it had been forced to part ways with Joey Chestnut, the long-reigning champion of its marquee event, the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest.

The split was made public on Tuesday the way shocking celebrity divorces often are: in the pages of The New York Post. In an interview with The New York Times, George Shea, the indefatigable host and promoter of the annual Fourth of July contest in Coney Island, sounded distraught.

Mr. Shea said he was “devastated” by the separation, which he described as the inevitable consequence of Mr. Chestnut’s decision to ink an endorsement deal with Impossible Foods, a rival company that makes vegan hot dogs.

“It would be like back in the day Michael Jordan coming to Nike, who made his Air Jordans, and saying, ‘I am just going to rep Adidas too,’” Mr. Shea said. “It just can’t happen.”

Mr. Chestnut could not be reached for comment on Tuesday. Impossible Foods declined to comment.

Mr. Chestnut won the contest last year for the 16th time, eating 62 hot dogs in 10 minutes in front of a crowd of cheering spectators and a wall of TV cameras that broadcast the spectacle to countries around the world, including on ESPN2 in the United States.

He shared the title with Miki Sudo, who won the women’s competition by eating 39.5 hot dogs in 10 minutes.

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