Joey Chestnut wins hot dog eating contest at Fort Bliss after ban from Nathan's competition

Joey Chestnut didn’t compete in Coney Island on Thursday but kept his July 4 tradition of winning a hot dog eating contest alive.

Chestnut beat a group of four Army soldiers in a contest at Fort Bliss Army base in El Paso, Texas, by eating 57 hot dogs in five minutes. The soldiers ate a combined 49 hot dogs. The group would have won if they ate more hot dogs combined than Chestnut.

“Hot dogs on the 4th of July in front of people who are celebrating America, it doesn’t get any better than this,” Chestnut said, sporting his winner’s belt.

Chestnut, 40, won 16 of the last 17 Nathan’s Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contests in Brooklyn, N.Y., and planned to participate again this year before Major League Eating (MLE) banned him for partnering with Impossible Foods, a plant-based rival brand. He learned he was barred three weeks ago, a decision that shocked the competitive eating world and Chestnut’s fans.

Chestnut ate 62 hot dogs in 10 minutes last year to capture his 16th Mustard Belt and previously set the world record of 76 hot dogs and buns eaten in 10 minutes in 2021.

After MLE’s decision, organizers at Fort Bliss contacted Chestnut about participating in a hot dog eating contest on July 4. Chestnut, whose grandfather served in Pearl Harbor in World War II, his father served in the Vietnam War and his brothers are military members, accepted the offer.

Thursday’s contest at Fort Bliss didn’t have the glitz and glamour of a large stage in the middle of Coney Island and an ESPN film crew, but the modest crowd who came to see Chestnut take on the soldiers inspired him.

Chestnut said he slowed his pace during the hot dog eating contest but picked it back up after the crowd kept cheering him on.

The contest at Fort Bliss was streamed on Chestnut’s YouTube channel and included a Q&A with fan questions.

The contest also raised money for Operation Homefront, a nonprofit that supports military families. After Chestnut’s victory, Impossible Foods CEO Peter McGuinness presented Operation Homefront with a $106,000 check.

The Fort Bliss contest came nearly five hours after the Nathan’s contest, where Miki Sudo ate a women’s world-record 51 franks to claim her 10th pink belt and Patrick Bertoletti won the men’s contest by downing 58 hot dogs.

Fans who missed seeing Chestnut on the national broadcast in Coney Island on Thursday can watch him compete on Labor Day in a winner-take-all hot dog eating contest against rival Takeru Kobayashi on Netflix.

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(Photo: Kena Betancur / Getty Images)

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