NEW YORK -- Joey Chestnut reclaimed the top spot at the
annual hot dog eating contest on Coney Island on Friday after first
tying with archrival Takeru Kobayashi in a 10-minute chow-down,
then beating him in a five-dog eat-off.
The men tied at 59 frankfurters in 10 minutes, before being made
to gobble another five dogs in a last-minute tiebreaker. They
consumed 64 hot dogs total and were looking quite peaked after the
Kobayashi had hoped to reclaim the throne after a disappointing
three-dog loss last year shattered his six-year winning streak.
"He wanted it, but I needed it," Chestnut said of his
diminutive Japanese rival.
Thousands gathered at Coney Island on the Fourth of July to
watch the gluttonous gladiators compete in the annual event.
Chestnut emerged victorious for the second year in a row, beating
20 others who had only 10 minutes to scarf down as many hot dogs as
possible, two minutes less than in previous years.
The regulation time was changed after it was revealed that the
original competition in 1916 was just 10 minutes long, instead of
the 12-minute limit used in more recent years. The switch made for
a tense competition.
Chestnut quickly pulled ahead, with cheeks puffed as he crammed
hot dogs into his mouth. At one point, the 24-year-old Californian
led Kobayashi 14 to 11. Kobayashi fell to third place, but ate his
way back and the two went dog-to-dog in the final stretch. After a
frankfurter photo-finish, the judges decided it was a tie.
Richard Shea, one of the founders of the International
Federation of Competitive Eating, said it was the first time in his
memory the contest went into overtime.
As usual, Kobayashi's strategy was to eat all the dogs first,
then dunk the buns and eat them. A pause while swallowing the soggy
buns meant defeat.
"He should've won it, it was his to win," said judge Gersh
Kuntzman said of the 30-year-old of Nagano, Japan.
The 128-pound legend in the competitive eating circuit told
Brooklyn papers that he wasn't feeling 100 percent, and while he
was improving, the tooth problem and sore jaw that hampered last
year's performance were still something of a problem.
"If I put one more mouthful in, I could've won [in
regulation]," Kobayashi said through a translator.
Their competitors included a pizza cook from New York City,
a fishmonger from Chicago and a 110-pound mother of two from
Chestnut, who topped out at 210 pounds, downplayed his win,
which included a prize of $10,000 and the coveted mustard-yellow belt.
"It was crazy. I'm just a normal guy eating hot dogs on the
Fourth," he said. "You can't overcomplicate it."
Chestnut said he was mentally prepared to eat 70, but his body
was pushing back during the competition; it didn't want to swallow
And it shouldn't want to. In fact, it's downright bad for your
health, says Dr. Marc Siegel, a professor at New York University
School of Medicine.
"Hot dogs are extremely unhealthy, especially when eaten at
high volume," he said. "They're really processed, they have high
cholesterol and too much salt."
And thanks to the quantities the competitors ate, they'll likely
suffer nausea, bloat, headache, and possibly high blood pressure
for several days as the body slowly digests the food.
"One is bad for you, five's worse and 50 is terrible," he
Luckily for the svelte first and second-place winners, being in
better shape helps in digesting the food.
And any gastrointestinal woes won't deter Kobayashi. He says
he'll be back for a rematch next year.
Before that, the two will
face off again Sept. 28 at the Krystal Square Off World Hamburger Eating
Championship in Chattanooga, Tenn.