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Competitive Eater Goes Nuts over Contract Dispute

By Tanya Roth, Esq. on July 07, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Competitive eaters. Like other performers or athletes, they can be a bit high-strung. However, that was not all that was at the bottom of a disruption of the famous Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest at Coney Island, in New York this 4th of July. Below the seething anger that ended in arrest for one former champ, was something many entertainers of all persuasions can relate to: a contract dispute.

According to the New York Daily news, it seems that watching his arch-enemy Joey (Jaws) Chestnut compete in and win a contest he was not allowed to take part in was too much for former champ Takeru Kobayashi, a.k.a. "Tsunami." As Chestnut was presented with his mustard yellow belt, Kobayashi stormed the stage and caused such a disruption that the police were called in and he was arrested. Kobayashi was charged with obstructing governmental administration, resisting arrest and trespassing.

"It's unprofessional and unsavory and, frankly, rather frustrating," contest organizer Richard Shea told the Daily News.

The dispute that kept the 128 lb. former-world champ eater off the playing field was based on contractual issues with event organizers. Kobayashi claimed he would not sign a contract that would prevent him from eating in tournaments promoted by other organizations. Event sponsors said the contract was unchanged from previous years.

Happily for fans of mass hot dog extinction everywhere, the news came on Monday, July 5, that Takeru Kobayashi was released from jail. Still wearing his "Free Kobi" shirt, the eating champ confirmed his state of mind. "I'm really hungry," he told the Daily News outside Brooklyn Criminal Court after spending a night behind bars. "I wanted to eat hot dogs."

"He just wanted a chance to eat and break the record and prove that he was the real champion," said his manager, Yuki Nagura. "Unfortunately, he was unable to reach an agreement with the organizers."

It may be some time before Kobayashi and the International Federation of Competitive Eating can work out their dispute. "We have to let everything digest before we do anything," said Shea.  

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