What is Smithfield's Deathstar? Man tackled by Joey Chestnut was protesting pork producer

What is Smithfield's Deathstar? Man tackled by Joey Chestnut was protesting pork producer
Joey Chestnut (L) tackles protesters (R) after they jumped on the stage holding the signs 'Expose Smithfield Death Star' during the July 4 Nathan Hot Dog contest (Video screenshot from @coachdags/Twitter and Direct Action Everywhere/Twitter)

TRIGGER WARNING: This article contains sensitive images

BROOKLYN, NY: Three animal rights activists, Scott Gilbertson, Robert Yamada, and Josh Marxen who wore masks of stormtroopers and Darth Vader from Star Wars were arrested after they walked on the stage at the Fourth of July Nathan’s International Hot Dog Eating Contest. In the middle of the contest, a protester wearing a Darth Vader mask jumped on the stage holding a display board that read “Expose Smithfield Death Star.”

Apparently, the "S" of the "Smithfield" was not visible, only "mithfield" could be seen. According to Direct Action Everywhere, a non-profit organization that works for the welfare of animals, the protester was likely referring to Smithfield Foods, an American pork processing company based in Smithfield, Virginia, which has surrounded itself with some controversy in the past. Meanwhile, the “Death Star” in writing happens to be a reference to Stars Wars. Given that the protester was wearing a Darth Vader mask. The protester was taken into custody and was arrested.


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"ARRESTED: Activists who disrupted #NathansHotDogEatingContest have been taken into police custody. Their protest was against Nathan’s pork supplier, Smithfield Foods, a company exposed for animal cruelty, worker abuse, & pollution. Updates will be posted as the story develops", Direct Action Everywhere wrote on Twitter.


In the past, PETA had even issued an announcement calling out the corporate Smithfield Foods for animal cruelty. As per VOX, in 2007, Smithfield Foods, the largest pork producer in the world came into the headlines when it declared that it would begin phasing out “gestation crates,” an extremely inhumane practice that involves confining mother pigs to fenced-in areas barely larger than their bodies.


In 2018, the animal welfare group Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) accused Smithfield that the company is still using gestation crates for pigs that are clearly pregnant, as well as pigs that have already given birth. “It’s not uncommon to see baby pigs in gestation crates,” Wayne Hsiung, DxE’s chief organizer and one of the investigators who visited the Smithfield facilities, says. “We absolutely did see mother pigs giving birth in gestation facilities.” The cramped conditions of those facilities create a huge risk of crushing death for piglets.

Pigs trapped in the crates at Smithfield Foods, the largest pork producer in the world (Courtesy: Direct Action Everywhere)

DxE shared many photos and videos during their investigation. Later, the company issued a statement publicly that they had eliminated the use of crating for pregnant pigs.


The protesters are now out of the jail as per the update shared by Direct Action Everywhere. "The DxE activists who disrupted #NathansHotDogEatingContest are out of jail. They’re facing criminal trespass charges but are in good spirits, knowing they were able to bring attention to the plight of animals suffering at the hands of Smithfield Foods. #SmithfieldsDeathstar", DxE wrote.

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