A Netflix image for Chestnut vs. Kobayashi and a photo of Joey Chestnut at a Phillies' game. A Netflix image for Chestnut vs. Kobayashi and a photo of Joey Chestnut at a Phillies’ game. (Sam Greene/USA Today Sports.)

There’s been a recent giant reporting controversy in the world around sports and that’s not about Shams Charania versus Adrian Wojnarowski.

Instead, there’s been an intense debate on whether Major League Eating “banned” famed eater Joey Chestnut from their 2024 Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest over his deal with Impossible Foods, or if Chestnut signed that deal knowing it would keep him out of the event. Amidst all that, Netflix has waded into the fray with news that they’ll air a live Sept. 2 showdown between Chestnut and Takeru Kobayashi (who he hasn’t faced since 2009)…with all-beef hot dogs.

Here’s more on that from a Netflix release:

Netflix will stream live the biggest rematch of professional eating legends on Monday, September 2. Joey Chestnut and Takeru Kobayashi will finally face off during CHESTNUT VS. KOBAYASHI: UNFINISHED BEEF — the showdown that will determine the ultimate hot-dog-eating champion — in which the competitors will fight to eat the most all-beef hot dogs.  The location and specific timing will be announced at a later date. 

World Record-Holder for eating 76 hot dogs in 10 minutes, Joey Chestnut has been dominating the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest for the past 8 years in a row. “Through all of my years in competitive eating, Kobayashi stands out as my fiercest rival,” said Chestnut. “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!”

A six-time Nathan’s Hot Dog champion, Takeru Kobayashi is no stranger to professional eating. He brought fame to the sport in 2001 when he won his first Hot Dog Eating Championship by eating double the amount of hot dogs the previous record holder ate, and continued to hold that title for many years. While rumors swirled about his retirement, Kobayashi is here to stay. 

“Retiring for me will only happen after I take him down one last time,” said Kobayashi. “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.”

This follows several Netflix forays into sports, after years of insisting they didn’t want live sports. And while even their recent comments have been about “sports adjacent programming,” they’ve gone beyond that. They’ve already shown golf and tennis exhibitions, they have a deal for live NFL games for the next three Christmases, and they plan to air a Jake Paul v. Mike Tyson boxing bout this November (postponed from its initial summer date due to health challenges for Tyson). And that’s before getting into their variety of sports documentaries and docuseries. Yes, this still isn’t conventional sports, and yes, it’s a one-off event like much of what they’ve shown so far, but it is a further dive into the sports realm.

This is also interesting considering the Chestnut dust-up with MLE and Nathan’s contest this week. Here’s more on that from CNN’s Erika Tulfo:

“We are devastated to learn that Joey Chestnut has chosen to represent a rival brand that sells plant-based hot dogs rather than competing in the 2024 Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest,” the Major League Eating organization, which oversees the event, said in a statement.

…MLE co-founder George Shea said the company tried to accommodate Chestnut and his management team, which included allowing him to compete in a rival unbranded hot dog eating contest on Labor Day.

“It’s a long-standing rule not to represent a rival brand,” Shea said. “Michael Jordan can’t go to Adidas and say that Air Jordans are great.”

The MLE has also emphasized that Chestnut was not banned for life from competing, citing his 20-year relationship with the league. The organization said that to come back Chestnut must renounce deals with brands that rival Nathan’s.

“Joey Chestnut is an American hero. We would love nothing more than to have him at Nathan’s Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest, which he has dominated for years. We hope that he returns when he is not representing a rival brand,” the MLE said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Chestnut provided this commentary on X/Twitter:

At the moment, it looks like Chestnut will not take part in the July 4 event. But he now has quite the alternative with this 15-years-coming rematch with Kobayashi. And many are already commenting on that:

We’ll see how this works out for Netflix in the end. But it certainly adds to their dives into sports and “sports adjacent” programming. And they definitely timed this announcement well around the controversy on whether MLE “banned” Chestnut or not.


About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.