NEW YORK (NEWSnet/AP) — America’s perennial hot dog swallowing champion won’t compete in this year’s Independence Day competition due to a contract dispute, organizers said Tuesday.

Joey “Jaws” Chestnut, 40, has been competing since 2005 and hasn’t lost since 2015. At last year’s Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July hot dog eating contest he downed 62 franks and buns in 10 minutes.

But Major League Eating event organizer George Shea says Chestnut is moving away from the contest due to a contract dispute.

“We love him, the fans love him,” Shea said, adding that “He made the choice.”

Shea says Chestnut struck a deal with a competing brand — a red line for the Nathan’s-sponsored event — but did not elaborate. He said the dispute came down to exclusivity.

Chestnut has long dominated the competition. Those vying for second place in the past might have renewed hope to swallow their way to first place this year, including international competitors on the eating circuit.

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