If only the story ended with Chestnut's decisive Coney Island victory.
On the other side of town, while Chestnut was busy dunking and scarfing at Coney Island, his arch-nemesis and world-renowned competitive eating champion, Takeru Kobayashi, was following suit at the Crif Dog Classic at Roberta's in Brooklyn. There he reportedly downed 68.5 dogs in the same amount of time. The plot thickens.
In 2010, Kobayashi was banned from the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest because of a contract dispute. "Nathan's has made contestants sign exclusive rights contracts that would only allow eaters to compete in certain 'league sanctioned' events," says Josiah Schlatter of NBCSports.com. After nine years of compliance, Kobayashi refused to sign the contract and was kicked out of the competition.
According to the Crif Dog Classic website, "Kobayashi is widely credited as being the greatest eater in the world." Even further, he "remains the barometer by which all other competitors are compared."
After refusing to sign a contract again last year, Kobayashi competed on the rooftop of 230 Fifth, a Manhattan bar, alongside a live, big screen television broadcast of the Coney Island event playing behind him. At that event, two judges claim that Kobayashi ate 69 hot dogs which is seven more than the winning total Chestnut ate across town.
Despite the fact that Kobayashi has reportedly out-eaten Chestnut two years in a row, critics still maintain that the the Crif Dog Classic, or any other hot dog eating competition for that matter, doesn't compare to the Nathan's contest.
Michael Moraitis, a featured columnist for The Bleacher Report, argues that the Crif Dog Classic is inferior because "it doesn't have the same national exposure that Nathan's does, nor the money to back it."
When told of Kobi's claim of eating 69 hot dogs, Major League Eating president George Shea sneered, "The champion of the world is crowned in Coney Island. Always has been, always will be. He put a tin crown on his head and called himself king."
Harsh! Even Chestnut refuses to recognize Kobayashi's supremacy. "I think even Kobayashi would agree that the record still stands at 68," Chestnut said. "And if he wants to compete with me on the Fourth of July, he knows what he has to do: sign a simple contract and man up."
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