Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Competition Could Possibly Get Canceled, Joey Chestnut Says

The COVID-19 outbreak has resulted in several sporting events being shut down for the foreseeable future. This includes the NBA and WNBA seasons being halted and the upcoming Tokyo Games being canceled and moved to summer 2021. Now the 2020 Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest could be the next event to be canceled.

Speaking with TMZ Sports, the defending champion Joey Chestnut said that he hasn't heard anything from Major League Eating about the state of the upcoming contest. It is currently scheduled for July 4 at Coney Island, but Chestnut said that he "won't be surprised" if it is ultimately canceled. However, he is still continuing with his training regimen.

"Last week, I did like 8 pounds of cucumbers," Chestnut said while also clarifying that his training is much easier than that of baseball players. He has been eating healthy throughout the week, but he also works on his bulk eating with a weekly cheat meal. "I feel like I'll be ready when the contest starts."

As Chestnut clarified, he can't practice competitive eating with hot dogs, pizza, or hamburgers. If he did, he would be "400 pounds" and would not be able to control his breathing. Working with fruits and vegetables provides him with a challenge while still maintaining a relatively healthy diet.

While there is a possibility that the 2020 Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest could be canceled due to health and safety concerns, there may be a possibility that it's held without fans in attendance. Chestnut told TMZ Sports that holding the contest in this manner would be odd, but he would still be open to it.

"It would suck not to do it in front of a huge crowd, but there'll still be people watching and I'll still be able to make people happy, I guess," Chestnut said. "And, I'd push myself to a ridiculous limit."

According to Chestnut, Nathan's focus is not on the hot dog eating contest at the moment despite an uncertain future. Instead, he said the company is focused on helping others. "They're donating tons of hot dogs, making sure people in their community are being taken care of," Chestnut said.

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If the competition does take place, Chestnut will be searching for another title defense. He faced stiff competition from Geoffrey Esper and dark horse Darren Breeden in the 2019 contest, but he still secured victory. Chestnut consumed 71 hot dogs en route to his 12th title at the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest. He was joined by women's champion Miki Sudo, a six-time Mustard Belt winner. She defeated the competition by consuming 31 hot dogs.

Photo Credit: Debra L Rothenberg/WireImage