Six-time champ Takeru Kobayashi won’t be in Coney Island for this year’s hot dog eating contest, but he’s trying to compete from afar.
Kobayashi, who can’t participate for the second straight year because he won’t sign an exclusive contract with organizer Major League Eating, will chow down along with the real contestants on July 4 via satellite TV from a 230 Fifth, a midtown restaurant.
The 33-year-old professional eater told amNewYork via email that he’s “competing” to protest Major League Eating because its contract stipulates he only participate in its tournaments and that the organization has control over his endorsements.
“I hope to create awareness about the nature of this kind of business,” said Kobayashi, who’s personal high at Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest is 64.5 in 2009.
Last year, Kobayashi watched the contest as a spectator, and made national headlines when he jumped onto the stage in protest. He was arrested, spent a night in jail and was removed from Nathan’s Wall of Fame for contest winners.
“At least they cannot erase history,” he said about his name taken off the wall.
Charges against him were dismissed.
Joey Chestnut, 27, the current reigning champ, said his rival’s stunt seemed petty, but there are no bitter feelings.
“He’s an awesome eater,” he said. “He pushes me to work harder.”
George Shea, spokesman for Major League Eating, said he wishes Kobayashi good luck but assured that “the World Hot Dog Eating Champion will be crowned in Coney Island that day.”
Regardless, it will be tough to crush Kobayashi’s passion for wolfing down unsettling quantities of encased beef, andhe said it’ll take more than a contract to dethrone him.
“I will be the best until I retire,” he said