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Hot dog eating contest

Pat Bertoletti crowned hot dog eating champion amid Joey Chestnut’s absence

The Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest has a new champion, as Pat Bertoletti ate 58 hot dogs.

Bertoletti’s victory comes as Americans across the nation are celebrating America’s Independence Day. Thousands of fans descended on Conley Island to watch competitive eaters wolf down as many hot dogs (and buns) as possible in a ten-minute time span during the hot dog eating contest.

However, this year’s slate of competitors was noticeably missing one high-profile contestant — 16-time champion Joey Chestnut.

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Hot dogs are ready for the 2024 Nathans Famous Fourth of July hot dog eating competition at Coney Island in the Brooklyn borough of New York on July 4, 2024. (LEONARDO MUNOZ/AFP via Getty Images)

He was reportedly barred from competing in this year’s event. Chestnut recently signed a deal with Impossible Foods, a rival of Nathan’s that has launched a vegan wiener, the New York Post reported.

JOEY CHESTNUT GEARS UP FOR INDEPENDENCE DAY HOT DOG COMPETITION FACEOFF AGAINST HUNGRY SOLDIERS

Instead, he’ll compete against soldiers at a U.S. Army base in El Paso beginning at 5 p.m. ET.

Chestnut’s absence left the traditional Brooklyn event wide open for a new winner in the men’s division, with eaters from around the world competing for the highly-coveted mustard belt.

Joey Chestnut with hot dogs

FILE – Joey Chestnut, winner of the 2021 Nathans Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog-Eating Contest, poses for photos in Coney Islands Maimonides Park, July 4, 2021, in the Brooklyn borough of New York. (AP Photo/Brittainy Newman, File)

Last year Chestnut, of Indiana, chewed his way to the title by downing 62 dogs and buns in 10 minutes. The record, which he set in 2021, is 76.

He was initially disinvited from the event over a sponsorship deal with Impossible Foods, a company that specializes in plant-based meat substitutes.

Joey Chestnut at a Georgia game

Competitive eater Joey Chestnut poses with his mustard yellow championship belt during a game between the Georgia Bulldogs and the Ball State Cardinals at Sanford Stadium on September 9, 2023 in Athens, Georgia. (Brandon Sloter/Image Of Sport/Getty Images)

Major League Eating, which organizes the Nathan’s Famous contest, has since said it walked back the ban, but Chestnut decided to spend the holiday with the troops anyway.

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Chestnut said he wouldn’t return to the Coney Island contest without an apology.

Impossible Foods will also donate to an organization supporting military families based on the number of hot dogs eaten at the event, a spokesperson said.

Fox News’ Ryan Morik contributed to this report.

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