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'Hungry' eating champ Kobayashi freed from jail

Japanese eating champion Takeru Kobayashi, arrested at the July Fourth hot dog-eating contest at Coney Island, was freed Monday after a night in jail, looking a little weary and saying he was hungry.

Kobayashi, wearing a black T-shirt bearing the message "Free Kobi" in green letters, was freed by a Brooklyn judge after he pleaded not guilty. The slim, boyish 32-year-old said he consumed only a sandwich and some milk in jail.

A contract dispute had kept Kobayashi out of Sunday's annual Nathan's Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest, but he showed up anyway.

"I was there as a spectator, just to cheer on my buddies," he said through an interpreter outside court Monday. Fans chanted for him, and "in the heat of it, I jumped on the stage, hoping they would let me eat." His attorney, Mario D. Romano, said his client was waved up onstage after spectators began chanting "Let him eat!"

"Shortly after he got on the stage, he was grabbed from behind by officers," Romano said.

Kobayashi was charged with obstruction of governmental administration, resisting arrest, trespassing and disorderly conduct.

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