Hot-dog eating champs go eye to eye
By LARRY McSHANE Associated Press Writer
NEW YORK—They stood toe to toe, eye to eye, and—most importantly—jaw to injured jaw. Six-time defending champion Takeru Kobayashi, still unable to open his mouth wide enough for a typical teeth cleaning, joined favorite Joey Chestnut at a Tuesday weigh-in before their Fourth of July hot-dog-eating showdown in Coney Island.
The Japanese title holder declared himself ready to gorge, dismissing suggestions by skeptics that his stiff jaw was nothing more than hot dog head games aimed at rattling world record holder Chestnut.
"I don't care what they think," the 29-year-old said through an interpreter. "I just want to battle tomorrow."
Since going public with his ailment last month, Kobayashi underwent treatment by a specialist and a chiropractor. Event organizers said he also had a wisdom tooth extracted June 26 to relieve what they described as "jaw-thritis."
The slender Kobayashi weighed in at 154 pounds. Chestnut, 23, came in at 215 pounds and added his voice to those unsure what to expect from the champion. "Kobayashi is the underdog," he said, "and he's claiming an illness."
The two are among 17 contestants preparing for Wednesday's eat-off, where the winner must consume the most HDBs—hot dogs and buns.
Last month, Chestnut eclipsed Kobayashi's mark of 53 1/2 in 12 minutes by inhaling 59 1/2. Urged by photographers to open wide on Tuesday, Kobayashi displayed less than a full range of mandible motion. That could be good news for Chestnut, who's favored to end Kobayashi's record run as holder of the mustard yellow belt presented each Fourth of July outside Nathan's Famous.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg introduced the pair before they stepped on the scales and engaged in a staredown at City Hall Park. "Many times ... in the annals of sports, the eyes of the world have turned to our great city to watch worthy adversaries square off," said Bloomberg, tongue in cheek. "What comes to mind is Ali and Frazier, the Yankees and the Mets, the Post and the Daily News."
And, this year, Kobayashi and Chestnut. (Link)
It's interesting the Japanese language websites hadn't been announcing Kobayashi's non-participation in this year's hot dog eating contest-- unlike their Western counterparts. So this came as little surprise to me.
But as a bit of analysis: this year's contest has got to suck for Joey "Jaws" Chestnut. Why? Because if he wins-- which seems like a foregone conclusion-- it's to an injured opponent. So where's the glory in that? See you next year for the REAL battle.
Extra: My friend 'The Ninja' sent me this list of the top competitive eaters and their wins. It'll make you puke.
Brats: 58 in 10 minutes (Takeru Kobayashi)
Cow Brains: 57 (17.7 pounds) in 15 minutes (Takeru Kobayashi)
Lobster Rolls: 41 in 10 minutes (Takeru Kobayashi)
Rice Balls: 20 pounds in 30 minutes (Takeru Kobayashi) Chestnut:
Asparagus: 8.6 pounds (deep fried tempura style) in 10 minutes (Joey Chestnut)
Chicken Wings: 182 in 30 minutes (Joey Chestnut)
Grilled Cheese Sandwiches: 47 in 10 minutes (Joey Chestnut)
Gyoza: 212 (chicken and vegetable) in 10 minutes (Joey Chestnut)
Hot Dogs: 59.5 (with buns) in 12 minutes (Joey Chestnut)
Pork Ribs: 8.4 pounds in 12 minutes (Joey Chestnut)
Pork, Pulled: 9.5 pounds in 10 minutes (Joey Chestnut)
Waffles: 18.5 (8-ounces) in 10:23 (Joey Chestnut)
Armour Vienna Sausage: 8.31 pounds in 10 minutes (Sonya Thomas)
Cheesecake: 11 pounds in 9 minutes (Sonya Thomas)
Chicken Nuggets: 80 in 5 minutes (Sonya Thomas)
Chili Cheese Fries: 8.1 pounds in 10 minutes (Sonya Thomas)
Crab Cakes: 46 in 10 minutes (Sonya Thomas)
Deep-Fried Okra: 9.75 pounds in10 Minutes (Sonya Thomas)
Eggs: 65 (hard boiled) in 6:40 (Sonya Thomas)
Fruitcake: 4.9 pounds in 10 minutes (Sonya Thomas)
Hamburgers: 7 (3/4 pounders) in 10 minutes (Sonya Thomas)
Jambalaya: 9 Pounds (crawfish) in 10 minutes (Sonya Thomas)
Maine Lobster: 44 (11.3 Pounds of meat) in 12 minutes (Sonya Thomas)
Meatballs: 10 pounds (3-ounce balls) in 12 minutes (Sonya Thomas)
Mince Pies: 46 in 10 minutes (Sonya Thomas)
Oysters: 46 in 10 minutes (Sonya Thomas)
Pork, Pulled Sandwiches: 23 in 10 minutes (Sonya Thomas)
Quesadilla: 31.5 (4-inch) in 5 minutes (Sonya Thomas)
Sweet Potato Casserole: 8.6 pounds in 11 minutes (Sonya Thomas)
Tacos: 48 in 11 minutes (Sonya Thomas)
Toasted Ravioli: 4 pounds in 12 minutes (Sonya Thomas)
Turducken: 7.75 pounds in 12 minutes (Sonya Thomas)