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Joey Chestnut, Takeru Kobayashi to compete in Netflix competition

FILE - Joey Chestnut, defending champion of the Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July hot dog eating contest, left, works to outpace former champion Takeru Kobayashi, right, July 4, 2009, in New York. Chestnut, a 16-time hot dog-eating champion, will face off with his frequent Nathan’s competitor, Kobayashi, in a live Netflix special on Sept. 2, 2024, the streamer announced Wednesday, June 12. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle, File)

LOS ANGELES — After organizers for Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July hot dog-eating contest said Joey Chestnut wouldn’t compete this year because of a deal with a rival brand, Netflix swiftly announced a new hot dog-eating competition that will feature Chestnut and his “fiercest rival.”

Chestnut, a 16-time hot dog-eating champion, will face off with his frequent Nathan’s competitor, Takeru Kobayashi , in a live Netflix special on Sept. 2, the streamer announced Wednesday.

The contest, titled “Chestnut vs. Kobayashi: Unfinished Beef,” will feature the two chowing down on all-beef hot dogs, likely in a nod to reports that Chestnut’s rival brand deal is with Impossible Foods, which makes plant-based hot dogs.

Major League Eating, the organization that oversees the Nathan’s contest, announced Tuesday that Chestnut’s deal was an “exclusivity” issue, saying that it was his decision to step back from the competition he has participated in since 2005. “We love him. The fans love him,” said George Shea, a Major League Eating event organizer, adding: “He made the choice.”

Chestnut disputed that he made the choice, saying on the social platform X that Nathan’s and Major League Eating made the decision, adding that it would “deprive fans of the holiday’s usual joy and entertainment.”

He also wrote that fans could “rest assured” that they would see him east again soon, adding: “STAY HUNGRY!”

Impossible Foods has not confirmed a formal relationship with Chestnut, but he said in a statement on Tuesday they support his choice to compete in any competition, adding “Meat eaters shouldn’t have to be exclusive to just one wiener.”

Following Netflix’s announcement, Shea said the streamer was “trying to recreate the Nathan’s contest to some extent and you just can’t do that.”

“Imitation is the best form of flattery,” he added.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams joined the conversation via X on Wednesday, urging Nathan's and Major League Eating to “stop being such weenies.” “It would be ‘impossible’ to have this year's Nathan's Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest without Joey Chestnut,” he wrote. “Let's find a way to squash this beef and bring back the champ for another 4th of July at Coney Island!”

In a Netflix news release announcing the competition, Chestnut said he was eager bring the competition to the streaming service.

“Through all of my years in competitive eating, Kobayashi stands out as my fiercest rival,” Chestnut said via the release. “Competing against him pushed me to be so much better. I know that fans have waited a long time for another chapter of our rivalry and I can’t wait for our massive showdown live on Netflix! It’s time to give the people what they want!”

Kobayashi, who has been rumored to be retired, said in the Netflix release that he is looking forward to facing off with Chestnut once more. The two have not competed since 2009.

“Retiring for me will only happen after I take him down one last time,” Kobayashi said. “This rivalry has been brewing for a long time. Competing against Joey live on Netflix means fans all over the world can watch me knock him out.”

The hot dog-eating competition is the latest of the streamer's recent efforts to expand into live TV, and it highlights the company's emphasis on sporting events, which will include Christmas Day NFL games starting this year and WWE's “Raw” in 2025.

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