Joey Chestnut, who captured his 15th Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest title last week, said a long-awaited showdown with Takeru Kobayashi could be on the table for 2023.
"The end of this year is going to be a weird year for me because my contract with Major League Eating and Nathan's is going to be over," he said. "So, it'll be my first year in a long, long time that I can actually eat against Kobayashi."
Chestnut made his Nathan's contest debut in 2005. He finished third as Kobayashi, whose dominance helped bring the annual Fourth of July event to the mainstream, rolled to his fifth consecutive championship.
Kobayashi won again in 2006 before the tide turned in favor of Chestnut, who won their final three head-to-head meetings on Coney Island in New York from 2007 through 2009.
The Japanese sensation departed Major League Eating before the 2010 competition and has never returned.
Chestnut has won 15 of the past 16 Nathan's contests, with his sole loss coming against Matt Stonie in 2015.
Now, it sounds like the California native is open to setting up a competition with his former rival.
"So, me and him could find a way to compete because he'll never compete with Major League Eating again because they have just a childish contract dispute ... but there's a chance that I might be able to eat against him," Chestnut said.
The other question stemming from his comments is whether he will forgo trying to defend his seven-year Nathan's winning streak on Independence Day 2023.
It would be intriguing if the Nathan's contest went up against a potential Chestnut vs. Kobayashi clash scheduled for the same day.
Another option could be a series of head-to-head events with various foods.