Takeru Kobayashi may not be competing in the world-famous Nathan's Annual Hot Dog Eating Contest this year, but that doesn't mean he can't make some waves in New York.
Kobayashi has formed his own hot dog eating competition this year after contract disputes forced him out of Nathan's for the past two years. It's called the 2012 Crif Dog Classic, and it sports some impressive competitive eaters from around the globe.
You will remember that Kobayashi defiantly ate at Manhattan bar 230 Fifth in protest of Nathan's last year, claiming to have set the world record in the process. He's certainly keeping his name in the discussion of the top competitive eater in the world.
Where: Roberta’s, 261 Moore Street, Brooklyn, NY
When: July 4, 2012, 11 a.m. ET – 3 p.m. ET
Competitors to Watch
Does the man even need an introduction?
He held the hot dog eating world record for almost six years before Joey Chestnut came around in 2007. He's the founder of the event, seeking to compete with Nathan's Annual Hot Dog Eating Contest after a contract dispute saw him protest on stage in 2010 and not participate. He competed independently on the rooftop of 230 Fifth, a Manhattan bar, in 2011, and two judges said he set the world record with 69 hot dogs eaten.
"Furious" Pete Czerwinski
A self-made man, "Furious" Pete Czerwinski made a name for himself when he started posting YouTube videos. It eventually led to him entering his first eating contest in 2008. He already holds various world records, including the fastest time to eat a 72-ounce steak (6:48).
Kobayashi may be the favorite, but Johnnie Excel will certainly put up a fight.
He's only been a competitive eater since September 2009 but has already set numerous records at competitions, including the California State Corn Dog Eating Contest and the Pho Garden Challenge in San Francisco. He also hangs his hat on eating a 10-pound pizza in Los Angeles and gobbling up over eight pounds of tacos in 15 minutes.
What They're Saying
Despite Kobayashi's claim that he ate 69 hot dogs last year, Joey Chestnut wasn't buying it.
Said the five-time champion of Nathan's Annual Hot Dog Eating Contest in 2011, via NBCSports.com:
I think even Kobayashi would agree that the record still stands at 68. And if he wants to compete with me on the Fourth of July, he knows what he has to do: sign a simple contract and man up.
And so goes the heated debate. If Kobayashi breaks the world record in another competition, does he deserve that world record?
Prediction: Takeru Kobayashi
C'mon, you gotta give this to Kobayashi. Whether he's still the top competitive eater in the world is up for debate, but, despite some heavy competition at the 2012 Crif Dog Classic, there likely won't be a match for the 34-year-old out of Nagano, Japan.