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He can't cut the mustard: American eats 66 hot dogs to beat six-time champ

By Associated Press

Thursday, July 5, 2007


NEW YORK - In a gut-busting showdown that combined drama, daring and indigestion, America's own Joey Chestnut emerged yesterday as the world's hot dog eating champ, knocking off six-time winner Takeru Kobayashi of Japan in a record-setting if repulsive triumph here at Coney Island.


Chestnut, red, white and blue's great hope in the annual Fourth of July competition, broke his own world record by stomaching 66 hot dogs in 12 minutes - a staggering one every 10.9 seconds - before a screaming crowd.


"If I needed to eat another one right now, I could," the 23-year-old Californian said after receiving the mustard yellow belt emblematic of hot dog eating supremacy.


Kobayashi, the thin, famed Japanese eating machine, recently had a wisdom tooth extracted and received chiropractic treatment due to a sore jaw. The winner of every Nathan's hot dog competition from 2001 to 2006, he showed no ill effects as he stayed with Chestnut frank-for-frank until the very end of the 12-minute competition.


Once the contest ended, the runner-up suffered a reversal - competitive eating-speak for barfing - leading to a deduction from his final total. Kobayashi finished with 63 HDBs (hot dogs and buns eaten) in his best performance ever.


"Obviously, the last bit exited his mouth quite dramatically," said Rich Shea of the International Federation of Competitive Eating. Kobayashi's gastric distress was the only sour note in the tube-steak tussle, which was aired on ESPN.


Kobayashi's previous best was 53 in the competition that dates back to 1916. The all-time record before yesterday's remarkable duel was Chestnut's 59 set last month.


The two gustatory gladiators quickly distanced themselves from the rest of the 17 competitors. The two had each downed 60 hot dogs with 60 seconds to go when Chestnut, the veins on his forehead extended, put away the final franks to end Kobayashi's reign. Kobayashi, through a translator, promised to return for the 2008 event.


The victory by the San Jose, Calif., resident ended Japan's dominance.The only previous non-Japanese winner since 1996 was New Jersey's Steve Keiner in 1999.


"This title's been held by Kobayashi for six years, so it's time it came home," said Chestnut, holding an American flag."I knew going into this that Kobayashi was going to give 100 percent."



Edited by Last Resort
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