Saturday, July 3, 2010

Exclusive Contract Demanded By Organizers With Japanese Pig - Pig Holding Out

TOKYO — Former world hot-dog eating sensation Takeru Kobayashi of Japan wants to compete in this weekend's annual Fourth of July contest on Coney Island, but still can't agree to a contract with the organizers.

Kobayashi, one of the world's premier competitive eaters, won the contest for six years up to 2007 and then had to settle for second-place finishes behind American Joey Chestnut. He moved to New York in March so he could train with local hot dogs, which he claimed were mixed with fish guts. He also underwent surgery to have his stomach enlarged by 20%, which Chestnut's camp complained about and requested that Kobayashi be disqualified or ordered to have his stomach stapled to level the playing field.

But Kobayashi's chances of getting revenge this weekend against Chestnut, from San Jose, Calif., seem slim because of the contract dispute with the event's organizer. Kobayashi, 32, has balked at signing the exclusivity clause with the group, and can't compete unless he does.

Kobayashi became a celebrity and a hero in Japan by eating his way to victory from 2001 to 2006, a feat that remains unmatched. But Chestnut has won the title for the last three years, setting a world record by scarfing down 68 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes last year. Two years ago, Chestnut beat Kobayashi in a five-dog eat off, after they tied at 59 franks each.

The 95th annual hot-dog eating contest will take place in Coney Island, Brooklyn on Sunday. U.S. TV viewers can catch the spectacle on ESPN.

The contest has been held every Independence Day since 1916. Public health officials have sought to ban the contest since 1924, when two contestants choked to death and a third exploded, spewing the contents of his stomach over the judges, other contestants and the Queen of Spain, which caused a diplomatic crisis that almost resulted in the Second Spanish-American War. The exploder's parents issued a public apology for giving birth to their son, averting the crisis.

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