Disgraced former hot dog eating champion Takeru Kobayashi claimed he beat Joey Chestnut’s world record of 68 hot dogs and buns in an unofficial July 4 stunt on a rooftop bar in Manhattan, but a shocking video taken of “the Tsunami” shows that he was about three dogs short of victory — and he may even have broken the rules of the stomach.
A painstaking review of the video, which was first released on TMZ.com, shows the gastronical Godzilla eating only 65 hot dogs and buns, and it appears he also chucked a bun on the floor — which would have gotten him disqualified if he was actually competing next to Chestnut at Nathan’s famous.
But if he wasn’t disqualified for the bun drop — Kobayashi still would have beaten Chestnut, who earned his fifth championship by eating 62 HDBs that day.
International Federation of Competitive Eating spokesperson George Shea called the already questionable record-breaking feat a farce since not a single dog Kobayashi digested was eaten at Coney Island’s arena of competitive eating gladiators.
“It doesn’t matter if he ate 10 or 100 hot dogs, it wouldn’t have counted,” Shea said. “But to have a blatant miscount and a claim of a world record calls Kobayashi’s entire exercise into question.”
Kobayashi, of course, has been consumer non grata in the IFOCE since he refused to sign a contract last year, then showed up at the contest anyway and was arrested when he rushed the stage. Later, he was unceremoniously removed from the Nathan’s Wall of Fame.
But watching his solo man-versus-dog competition in outer-Brooklyn, Kobayashi, sporting a shock of brown hair and a “Kobi Unleashed” T-shirt, was himself again, eating hot dogs like he once chowed down on pan-seared cow-brains.
He started out strong as he ate two hot dogs at a time, dousing the buns in hot water and jamming soppy balls of bread into his maw. When the five minute mark rolled around, he was pounding three hot dogs at a time.
“[Beating Chestnut’s record] was delightful,” Kobayashi wrote on his blog — in Japanese (we translated it) — on Wednesday. “The world record of hot dog eating was established on July 4 and there is no champion that can deny that record.”
Attempts to reach Kobayashi about the miscount were unsuccessful as we devoured up every last minute of our deadline.
Yet Steven Greenerg, the owner of bar where the “contest” was held, stands by the gut-busting score. Two judges licensed by the New York State Athletic Commission watched Kobayashi like a hawk during the entire stomach busting bout, he said. In contrast, the judges at the Nathan’s famous were slightly less experienced — many of them ESPN radio contest winners.
“We had one judge in the front and one judge in the back,” Greenberg explained. “You couldn’t see everything that happened from the video, you had to be there.”
At Monday’s hot dog eating contest, Chestnut shrugged off Kobayashi’s “victory.”
“That wasn’t a competition, that was just him eating,” Chestnut said. “I ate 71 hot dogs by myself once,” Chestnut said. “It was his choice not to be here. It’s sad that he thinks he’s Kobe Bryant.”
Despite this round of competitive eating indigestion, Shea said the IFOCE’s refrigerator door would always be open to Kobayashi if he wants to come back to Coney Island — as long as he’s willing to play by the esteemed federation’s rules. Last year’s contract dispute was over Kobayashi’s desire to participate in non-sanctioned hot dog eating competitions as a free agent, making him the Curt Flood of competitive eating.
On his blog, Kobayashi bemoans the fact that the IFOCE would not let him be a “private agent [and do] business with [companies] other than conference sponsors.”
But Shea said nothing is insurmountable.
“[A new contract] would be difficult to negotiate, but there’s a way to do everything if you sit down and talk it out,” Shea said.