- The Michael Jackson of competitive eating.
Takeru Kobayashi was always out of place on the competitive eating circuit: young, slim, mild-mannered, Japanese. Well, now, because of an impasse over money, he will be out of the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog-Eating Contest on the 4th of July. Though Kobayshi had lost the title the last three years to a man called Joey Chestnut, he remains a threat on the international competitive eating circuit (yes, there is one), and has developed such a following that his appearance fees have apparently ballooned to the point where no one can afford them. As International Federation of Competitive Eating Executive Director George Shea told the Brooklyn Paper:
Clearly, we are in the Joey Chestnut era, but I never thought we were also in the post-Kobayashi era. It’s sad, but perhaps Koby is protecting his legacy. He can’t go out on top, but he doesn’t want to go out a loser.