Getty Images/Yana Paskova
oey Chestnut of San Jose, California (L) and Takeru Kobayashi of Nagano, Japan (R) stuff hot dogs into their mouths during Nathan's Famous Fourth of July hot dog eating contest on July 4, 2009 in Coney Island in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.
It seems the red, white, and blue could still face some opposition from the land of the rising sun.
The 32-year-old dropped out of the competition on June 28th due to a contract dispute with the International Federation of Competitive Eating over an exclusivity clause with the group, and can't compete in the fourth of July classic unless he does.
Kobayashi is currently ranked third among Major League Eating’s competitive eaters. Kobayashi, also known as the tsunami, wore the mustard yellow belt for six years until American Joey "Jaws" Chestnut dethroned him in 2007.
Chestnut has won the competition for the last three years, setting world records along the way. Just last year, Chestnut managed to pack away 68 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes. Two years ago, Chestnut beat Kobayashi by 3 ½ dogs in a five dog eat off after tying at 59 of the famous franks.
Chestnut told the Associated Press that he says he still sees Kobayashi as a bitter rival. The animosity between the pair extends beyond hot dogs.
Last May the rivalry extended to another of America’s famous lunchtime snacks – pizza. The Japanese dynamo beat Chestnut by inhaling 5 3/4 pizzas in six minutes while the American could only manage 5 ½.
But with Kobayashi still a variable; Chestnut's toughest opponent may be Bob “Humble” Shoudt, the world's current No. 2 eater. Shoudt is a vegetarian that only eats meat in sanctioned competitions.
He holds world records for eating 23.4lbs of salmon chowder and 2 lb blueberry pie in 60 seconds. At last year’s competition he managed to eat 42 hot dogs putting him within distance of Chestnut’s crown.
The California native could also face competition from the world’s fourth ranked eater, Patrick “Deep Dish” Bertoletti. He is considered a “young gun” in the competitive eating circuit. Bertoletti is known for wearing his earphones while eating, came in third with 54 hot dogs at last years competition, making him someone Chestnut should watch out for.
The 95th Nathan's Annual Hot Dog Eating Contest will take place in Coney Island on the corner of Surf and Stillwell Ave. The event has captivated audiences of thousands since Nathan first opened his hot dog stand in 1916.