Joey Chestnut: ‘Kobayashi Had Crazy Eyes’

Joey Chestnut had won the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest eight years in a row before finally relinquishing his crown this year, losing a nail-biter to Matthew “Megatoad” Stonie. While Chestnut remains arguably the best professional eater in the world – and while he loves competing against elite competition like Stonie – there’s somebody else he wants to chow down against but can’t.

Takeru Kobayashi.

One of the best professional eaters the world has ever seen, Kobayashi is no longer one of the faces of the sport.

“Man, that guy, he was an awesome eater,” Chestnut said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “After he lost a couple years in a row, he came up with a contract issue. For nine years, he was signing the same contract, and basically it said he wasn’t going to try to endorse another hot dog brand or start his own events (or) do his own contests. He wanted to make a different contract than anybody else, so it just became a sticking point (and) he wasn’t able to compete. Then things got really complicated. I can’t believe he turned it down. That’s real unfortunate because he was not only a great competitor; I just liked to beat him more than anybody else. He made me push harder than anybody else.”

In 2010, Kobayashi refused to sign a contract with Major League Eating, the organization that runs the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest and many events similar to that. Kobayashi was then banned from competing in MLE events and famously showed up to the 2010 Nathan’s event to protest.

At the time, Damon Amendolara didn’t know if Kobayashi’s appearance was staged. It was not.

“It’s weird,” Chestnut said. “I saw him and he had the crazy eye. I thought the cops were going to tase him.”

Kobayashi, 37, was born in Japan but lives in New York. Chestnut believes that Kobayashi is participating in a pizza-eating contest in Toronto in a few weeks.

“If he signs a contract, I’m sure he’d be allowed to compete (in MLE events),” Chestnut said.

Not that Chestnut knows whether Kobayashi will do that or anything. In fact, the two are not really on speaking terms – which Chestnut didn’t know until recently.

How did Chestnut find out, you ask? Kobayashi blocked him on Twitter.

“I was like, really?” Chestnut said, laughing. “It was so awesome.”

Chestnut’s response?
“I’m going to tweet a picture of me being told I’m blocked,” he said.

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