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CONEY ISLAND, N.Y.—Last year’s world eating champion, Joey Chestnut, just won his fourth Nathan's hot dog eating championship, downing 54 dogs and buns in ten minutes. His closest competitor, Tim Janus, ate 45. Pat Bertoletti ate 37.
Mr. Chestnut ate 68 dogs last year. But this year he ingested 14 dogs less, yet still could win against his closest competitor by a whopping 9 dogs. His chief competitor, Takeru Kobayashi of Japan, was absent.
Kobayashi, a superstar among eaters and a six time champion of the event, sat out this year's competition because Major League Eating's contract would prohibit him from eating in other contests not sanctioned by Major League Eating.
Competitor Bob Shoudt spoke to sports news channel ESPN about Kobayashi's absence. "It will be a big loss if he is not here," he declared.
"If he shows up I think he can win this," said Tim Janus, aka Eater X. But chief competitor Chestnut didn't think so. He thinks that Kobayashi was just trying to negotiate for too much money as an excuse so that he wouldn't have to face the heat this year.
With hot dogs sold in over 14,000 locations, Nathan's Famous is a chain of some 200 franchises and 16 company-owned restaurants. Their annual hot dog eating contest is where winners from regional competitions vie for a spot at the national Coney Island eat to win the honor of being the world's top glutton and to receive Nathan's Mustard Belt. The final face-off took place at high noon today, July 4.
Additional Story: Kobayashi hauled to jail!
After watching the match in the crowd, Takeru Kobayashi tried to take the stage at the end of the contest and compete. According to the Washington Post, upon seeing him take the stage, the crowds yelled, "Let him eat." The New York police arrested Kobayashi.