Joey Chestnut, defending champion of the annual July Fourth hot dog eating competition on New York City's Coney Island, is excluded from this year's event because he is sponsoring an all-veggie frankfurter of another brand, organizers said Tuesday.

In a statement posted to its X social media account, Major League Eating (MLE), which oversees Nathan's Famous Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest, said it was "devastated" by Chestnut's decision to switch commercial fealty to a rival frank.

The statement did not specify the rival brand in question except to say that it "sells plant-based hot dogs."