Oh the sting of seeing one’s heroes laid low, particularly when the culprit appears to be a repetitive stress disorder, rather than an injury sustained at the glorious height of competition. But yes, it appears that it will be some time before the legendary Kobayashi returns to competitive hot dog eating.
In a recent entry titled “Vocational disease” on the Web translation of Takeru Kobayashi’s blog, the valiant food fighter describes (or appears to describe, as best I can tell from the automatic translation), his health setback, saying he is currently experiencing such pain in his jaw that he can open it no more than a finger’s-width.
Alas, it would appear the six-time champion of the Nathan’s Famous Inc. hot dog eating contest will be forced to relinquish his crown this Fourth of July, betrayed by an arthritic jaw. It would have been quite a match, pitting Kobayashi against the man that wrested the world hot dog eating record from him earlier this month.
Joey Chestnut had nearly proven Kobayashi’s match last July 4 when he put away 52 dogs in 12 minutes to Kobayashi’s then record 53 3/4. But recently, in regional qualifying for the big show at Coney Island, Chestnut crushed Kobayashi’s mark, wolfing down 59 1/2 hot dogs and buns.
I’m not sure if Kobayashi’s jaw is covered at Lloyd’s or elsewhere, or whether his absence might trigger any sort of event policy for the Nathan’s competition, but if any of you might know, I’d be interested in finding out. Meanwhile, if the current world record holder Joey Chestnut is going bare jaw-wise, it might be time for him to think about coverage.