Takeru Kobayashi has regained the title of the world's greatest hot dog eater -- but this time it comes with an asterisk.
Joey Chestnut once again won the Mustard Belt at the Nathan's Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest in Brooklyn, N.Y., but eating in exile on a rooftop in Manhattan, Kobayashi managed to put away a world record of 69 hot dogs in 10 minutes to Chesnut's 62.
After Kobayashi's camp and the organizers of the July 4 hot dog eating contest failed to reconcile their differences following a contract dispute and the eater's arrest at last year's contest, the six-time Nathan's champ took to the bar 230 FIFTH for an unsanctioned eating expo overseen by New York State Athletic Association judges Brian Adams and Tyrone Jackson.
And he made history, beating Chestnut's 2009 record by a single HDB (hot dog and bun) and Chestnut's 2011 showing by seven HDBs.
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Joey "Jaws" Chestnut cemented his competitive eating legacy by winning his fifth straight Nathan's Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest in Brooklyn, N.Y. on July 4, 2011. The San Jose, Calif. native ate 62 HDBs (hot dogs and buns) -- six short of his 2009 record.
When Chestnut took the stage in Brooklyn's Coney Island neighborhood just before the contest, the crowd went wild. He has not lost the Mustard Belt since his first victory against the seemingly unbeatable Takeru Kobayashi in 2007.
Chestnut faced fierce competition from Pat "Deep Dish" Bertoletti (left, with the mohawk), who finished with 55 HBDs (hot dogs and buns). Tim "Eater X" Janus (right with the paint on his face), came in third with 45 HDBs.
The 2011 contest might be remembered as the year when Takeru Kobayashi won -- from afar. But it was also an historic event thanks to the first-ever women-only hot dog eating competition. Sonya "The Black Widow" Thomas (center) took first prize with 40 HDBs, while Juliet Lee (left) and Stephanie Torres (right) came in second with 29.5 HDBs and third with 28.5 HDBs, respectively.
Thomas has been a dominant figure in competitive eating for years -- but she never took home the Mustard Belt. That all changed in women-only contest in 2011. After her victory, Thomas hopped onto the shoulders of competitive eater Eric "Badlands" Booker and took a victory lap in the crowd.
Chestnut and Thomas enjoy their day in the sun in Coney Island. Both left the Nathan's Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest as champions -- and the proud winners of $10,000 in prize money.
In Coney Island, Chestnut relished in his 62-dog performance, unaware that Kobayashi had regained the world record in the unofficial event. He stated afterward that he was "feeling good."
The San Jose, Calif., native, fittingly known as "Jaws," started fast and hardly slowed at the Brooklyn event. Pat "Deep Dish" Bertoletti nearly kept pace, finishing with an impressive 55 HDBs. Third place finisher Tim "Eater X" Janus consumed 45 HDBs.
When informed of Kobayashi's historic performance, Major League Eating president and hot dog contest master of ceremonies George Shea called it a "farce."
"The champion of the world is crowned in Coney Island. Always has been, always will be," said Shea. "[Kobayashi] put a tin crown on his head and called himself king."
While the win in Coney Island further cements Chestnut's competitive eating legacy as one of dominance, Kobayashi's new world record makes it clear that the man known as "The Tsunami" isn't past his prime.
Kobayashi emerged on the competitive eating circuit a decade ago, winning six straight Nathan's Famous contests and earning a reputation as unbeatable. That is, until Chestnut took the Mustard Belt in 2007, winning in consecutive years with 66, 59, 68, 54, and now, 62 HDBs.
On the stage in Coney Island, Chestnut appeared dominant, with Bertoletti presenting his only real challenger. Tai Loi Mak, Lu Ming Kui and Yat Ming Lam -- the first challengers from China who have ever taken part in the hot dog event -- struggled against top tier gluttons. Tim "Gravy" Brown was disqualified after a "reversal of fortune."
Sixteen miles away, Kobayashi stood aside a 12-foot screen, which aired the ESPN coverage. The Japanse champ entered just before Chestnut was announced. He quickly jumped to a lead, and was finishing his 30th dog before Chestnut had downed his 24th.
"I am so happy I got this chance," Kobayshi told a packed house at the rooftop garden bar at 230 Fifth, slamming both fists on the table triumphantly, and thanking club owner Steven Greenberg for making the event happen.
"I watched the Coney Island event last year, and immediately after the police incident I contacted Koby's attorney," Greenberg said. "We thought the public deserved to see him compete."
Kobayashi told AOL Weird News that Major League Eating representatives contacted him before the event, but they refused to drop their demand that he sign a restrictive contract for the right to compete at Coney Island.
"I want to remain free to compete in the events that I want to compete in," Kobayashi said. "Today was a great success."
In the first-ever women-only contest, Sonya "The Black Widow" Thomas took home the $10,000 prize with 40 HDBs -- one fewer than her personal record of 41 HDBs.
After the competition, Thomas hopped onto competitive eater Eric "Badlands" Booker's shoulders and marched into the crowd, carrying flowers and her pink-colored Mustard Belt over her head.
Second place finisher Juliet Lee consumed 29.5 HDBs and said she struggled to concentrate while dining on competitive eating's biggest stage.
"I didn't focus -- too many things on my mind," said Lee, who noted that she was thinking of her daughter in China throughout the contest.
Rookie Stephanie Torres surprised the crowd with 28.5 HDBs, an impressive debut that earned her a third place finish.