NEW YORK (AP) — Competitive eater Joey “Jaws” Chestnut will take his hot dog-downing talents to an army base in Texas for America’s Independence Day this year after a falling out with organizers of the event that made him famous, the annual 4th of July eating contest in Brooklyn’s Coney Island.

Chestnut, of Indiana, will compete against soldiers in Fort Bliss, in El Paso, in a 5-minute hot dog eating contest. That’s instead of the 10-minute Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July hot dog eating contest, where he competed against the world’s top competitive eaters since 2005 and hadn’t lost since 2015. In 2021 he set the current record of 76 hot dogs, in 10 minutes.

Organizers of that event initially said he couldn’t attend due to a sponsorship conflict, which Chestnut said involved a deal with Impossible Foods, which makes plant-based hot dogs.

Chestnut said he was “ gutted ” he couldn’t compete in the event in Coney Island, where he said he loved the atmosphere and the sometimes-sweltering crowds.

“Those people have been sitting in the sun, waiting. They know what to expect. And they’re not shocked. They’re cheering and yelling and pushing me,” Chestnut said Thursday in a phone interview.

But Chestnut says he’s not going to sit home and do nothing. And he’s hopeful the soldiers will push him to perform. Fearful of being “lazy” in competition with amateurs, the perennial world champion will try to out-eat four soldiers, pitting his frank-swallowing total against theirs combined. If they work together, they might even beat him.

“If they (each) break ten, that’d be pretty good,” Chestnut said Thursday as he fasted on water, lemon juice and liquified calories as part of his pre-competition routine.

Around 15,000 people, mostly soldiers and their families, are expected to attend the annual “Pop Goes the Fort” celebration at Fort Bliss. It also is to include fireworks and performances by the El Paso Symphony Orchestra and the 1st Armored Division Band, according to Fort Bliss Morale Welfare and Recreation organization spokesperson Marlow Brestar.

Chestnut said he’ll do a practice routine Friday, then ingest oils to “make sure there’s a clean highway, there won’t be any traffic jams” in his digestive system before heading to Fort Bliss, the sprawling desert army base that’s home to the 1st Armored Division. It will be his first visit to El Paso.

“Maybe I’ll get to get on a tank,” he said.

Fans can watch Chestnut compete on Netflix against rival Takeru Kobayashi in September.

He’s hopeful that he can get back to competing on July 4th next year, either with Netflix or at the Nathan’s Famous contest. To head back to his cherished Coney Island event though, he’d need to make up with the event organizers, Major League Eating.

“I feel bullied,” he said. “If I’m ever going to work with them again, they’re going to have to apologize,” Chestnut said.

Major League Eating says it eventually conceded the sponsorship issue, according to a statement from spokesman George Shea.

“Unfortunately, this was not enough to get us to an agreement,” the statement said. “We think this is a powerful tribute to our armed forces and we wish Joey the best of luck at his event.”

HomeNewsAfter split with NYC July 4 hot dog competition, Joey Chestnut heads to army base event in Texas