Nathan’s hot dog contest crowns Bertoletti, Sudo after Joey Chestnut debacle

Business

Patrick Bertoletti, Geoffrey Esper and other contestants compete in the 2024 Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest at Coney Island in New York City, U.S., July 4, 2024.
Jeenah Moon | Reuters

There’s a new top dog in the frankfurter eating world.

Patrick Bertoletti won Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest, the annual competition held on July 4, marking the end of an era after 16-time winner Joey Chestnut’s falling out with the event’s organizer, Major League Eating.

Bertoletti, 39, from Illinois, consumed 58 hot dogs in this year’s 10-minute event, earning him the Mustard Yellow Belt in the men’s category. Miki Sudo set a new record in the women’s division with 51 wieners downed. After the beef between Chestnut and MLE, the contest was considered much more wide open than in the past several years.

MLE announced last month that it was parting ways with Chestnut, citing a rule that participants cannot strike endorsement deals with rivals of hot dog maker Nathan’s. MLE alleged at the time that Chestnut had partnered with a plant-based meat alternative company. Chestnut, also known as “Jaws,” has recently begun posting images on Instagram that feature Impossible Foods.

“For nearly two decades we have worked under the same basic hot dog exclusivity provisions,” the MLE said in a statement in June. “However, it seems that Joey and his managers have prioritized a new partnership with a different hot dog brand over our long-time relationship.”

Miki Sudo reacts as she wins women’s division of the 2024 Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest at Coney Island in New York City, U.S., July 4, 2024.
Jeenah Moon | Reuters

Chestnut responded in a statement at the time that he was “gutted to learn from the media” of his banishment after 19 years. The 40-year-old claimed he did not have a contract with MLE or Nathan’s, and said the endorsement ban was a departure from the organization’s rules around partnerships in prior years.

“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,” he said last month.

While the relationship appears fried for the time being, the MLE called Chestnut an “American hero” and said it would “love” for him to return when not representing a Nathan’s competitor. Chestnut holds eating records in 55 categories, including eggs, chicken wings and apple pies, the MLE told NBC News.

Nathan’s website also still showers Chestnut in praise. In a section announcing his 2023 win, the New York-based company wrote that “there’s no doubt in our mind who’s the king.”

People wear hot dog outfits, as they attend the 2024 Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest, at Coney Island, in New York City, U.S., July 4, 2024
Kent J. Edwards | Reuters

During ESPN’s broadcast of the 2024 contest, the channel made several mentions of Chestnut and what the competition looks like without him. In one reference, Chestnut was referred to as the “Warren Buffett of the buffet.”

Chestnut fans can still see him in action this holiday.

He’s livestreaming a hot dog eating contest from the Fort Bliss army base in Texas as a fundraiser for charity, according to a recent Instagram post. The show begins at 5 p.m. ET on Thursday.

“The 4th wouldn’t be the same if I wasn’t celebrating by eating a whole lot of all-beef hot dogs,” he wrote.

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