Takeru "The Tsunami" Kobayashi crashed the annual Nathan's Coney Island contest

By Stephen M. Silverman
July 06, 2010 07:00 AM
Credit: BP/INF; Jennifer Lombardo/FilmMagic

Coney Island’s annual 4th of July Nathan’s Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest was swallowed by controversy this weekend, with the arrest of former champ Takeru “The Tsunami” Kobayashi – who had stormed the stage during Sunday’s big gulp after a contract dispute had banned him from participating.

Booked on charges of trespassing, resisting arrest and obstructing governmental administration, Kobayashi, 32, was released from his Brooklyn jail cell on Monday, admitting he was hungry after only consuming a sandwich and some milk behind bars.

“I was there as a spectator, just to cheer on my buddies,” the trim marathon eater, speaking through an interpreter, said outside court by way of explanation for his actions.

Sunday’s winner was Joey “Jaws” Chestnut, who earned the “mustard belt” (and $20,000 prize) for the fourth consecutive year. His consumption: 54 wieners in 10 minutes.

After observing Kobayashi’s being grabbed and arrested by police, Chestnut said, “I feel bad for him.”

Kobayashi’s actions were “kind of unfortunate and maybe sad and certainly disruptive,” the president of Major League Eating, Richard Shea, told CBS News. after the brouhaha.

Major League Eating’s official statement termed the former champ’s actions “inappropriate and unfortunate Kobayashi was a great champion and we hope that he is able to resolve his current situation and move past this.”

Currently residing in New York, Kobayashi reportedly declined to sign a contract with Major League Eating, because, he blogged on his Web site, he wishes to be free to enter competing eating matches.

Chestnut, of San Jose, Calif., failed to top his record from last year of 68 hot dogs, bettering Kobayashi by four dogs. His aim this year, the 26-year-old said beforehand, was 70 dogs.