Dueling Dogs: Controversy Returns to the Coney Island Eating Contest

Chestnut dominates annual competition as rival sets new mark

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Joey Chestnut won his fifth Nathan's International Hot Dog Eating Contest Monday. Sweat pouring down his forehead, Chestnut downed a modest 62 hotdogs as he walked away with another victory, beating the runner-up by nine hot dogs. The official world record was set in 2009 when Chestnut downed 68 hotdogs as part of the annual Coney Island contest. This marks his fifth consecutive hot dog championship. Chestnut's real competition, however, was across town on a rooftop in Manhattan, where Takeru Kobayashi competed simultaneously in an act of defiance against Major League Eating, the sanctioning body that regulates competitions of overindulgence. The last time Kobayashi competed in Coney Island was in the 2009 contest in which Chestnut set the new original world record. (Kobayashi, shown below at the end of that match, had consumed a mere 64 ½ hotdogs.)

Today Kobayashi ate an astounding 69 hot dogs but it's unlikely to be recognized as the new world record because of a contract dispute. This marks the second year that Kobayashi hasn't competed in the official Coney Island July Fourth eating competition that used to greet him like royalty. Major League Eating wants Kobayashi to sign an exclusive contract with them, but he refuses. Kobayashi was arrested last year when he tried to storm the stage on Coney Island during the competition.

Kobayashi gained fame when he won Nathan's Famous Hot Dog contest six times in a row from 2001 to 2006. Kobayashi set and then broke his own world record three times over those six years. Chestnut emerged in 2007 to defeat Kobayashi and take his world record, emerging as the great American hero reclaiming the July 4th tradition. Kobayashi came up short again in 2008 and then again 2009, the same year that Chestnut set the current world record of 68 dogs. Kobayashi's contract dispute forced him out of the next two competitions. This years competition is Chestnut's fifth title in a row, which puts him one behind Kobayashi's record of six. Kobayashi besting the world record unofficially this year will hopefully pressure everyone to bring the two tummy titans together for face off next year.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.