What Is Kobayashi’s Beef?
July 6, 2010 – 7:20 am by timgunter
Of all of the holidays that we celebrate here in the U.S., the 4th of July seems to be my favorite. As a young child, I always seemed to be blowing things up with fireworks and the only time the police wouldn’t get called seemed to be on the 4th of July, so I guess it was my favorite holiday by default. To this day, the 4th is still my favorite holiday and contrary to the other ‘Hallmark holidays’ we observe, this holiday has a purpose, observing our nation’s independence. Getting to spend time with family, friends, eating lots of food and consuming adult beverages is my type of holiday and one event that goes in conjunction with it is the Coney Island Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest. My holiday isn’t complete without watching Takeru “The Tsunami” Kobayashi take on the now 4-time defending champion, Joey “Jaws” Chestnut
This past Sunday’s event was unlike any other. Kobayashi, who was unsigned and in the middle of a contract dispute with Major League Eating (MLE), was not allowed to take part in the event. After watching “Jaws” devour the competition and 54 hot dogs in ten minutes, the crowd began chanting ‘Let him eat! Let him eat!’, so Kobayashi decided to try and climb to the stage and was thus apprehended by NYPD for trespassing, resisting arrest, disorderly conduct and obstructing governmental administration. Instead of eating hot dogs on Sunday, Kobayashi spent time eating bologna sandwiches at the Brooklyn jail. After spending the night in jail, Kobayashi was released without bail and ordered to return for a court date in one month.
To make sense of it all, George Shea (president of the International Federation of Competitive Eating) joined 590 the Fan in Toronto to talk about the contract negotiations with Takeru Kobayashi and how that works and how many other eating organizations there are out there.
On the contract negotiations with Takeru Kobayashi and how that works:
“Competitive eating has been around for hundreds of years. Obviously, the Nathan’s contest is the oldest and most festive of all of those and run for generations on Coney Island. It gathers 40,000+ fans and it is live on ESPN but Kobayashi, Major League Eating is the league that overseas eating and we do have contracts with our eaters. Here is the fundamental component of the contract, I wont go to your events and then take the fame from that and then go endorse a rival sponsor or go to a rival event. So it would be like Kobayashi goes to the Nathan’s contest gets up on stage, wins and doesn’t win or whatever it is and then the next day endorses a rival hot dog brand or a rival stomach remedy brand, Peptol is our sponsor out there this year. So that is the restriction. You don’t use our platform to sponsor and to endorse or got to a rival contest thing, you are part of the league. What he said is ‘I don’t want to be a part of the league but I want to go that event’ because there is lots of publicity and what he said, is ‘That would be like Tom Brady saying that I want to go to the Super Bowl but I don’t want to be part of the NFL. It is a non-starter, it doesn’t make any sense.”
How many other eating organizations there are out there:
“There are several other organizations. They are smaller. They don’t have the big prizes. We put $500,000 in purses and appearance fees on the circuit this past year for our eaters and Kobayashi has made considerable money so it is not like he is a victim. They issue is the sponsors would not put money on an event and pay the eaters to come in. Those eaters are then going to go endorse a rival product. That just doesn’t happen. It is kind of like a misunderstanding of some very basic fundamental things, but then what happened is Kobayashi seemed conflicted and even though he didn’t want to be part of it he said I am not going then. If I can’t do it without a contract I won’t attend. But then he did attend, he was in the crowd, and then very weirdly at the end he jumped on stage, crashed and jumped the barriers, it was all very weird and he had to push past police and with the intention from what I read from a statement from his girlfriend, to try to eat afterwards more hot dogs than anyone else ate to prove that he was the best and it was like – someone said that it was like the ex-wife showing up at the new wedding but then going further. I have got to tell you, it was really awkward. It was very unfortunate and it was certainly inappropriate but it didn’t diminish Joey Chestnut’s great day. Joey Chestnut ate 54 Nathan’s famous hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes. It was not by any stretch a record, but there was record heat out there and that was what was killing all of the guys. But he is a great champion. It didn’t diminish the exposure of the event or the ESPN broadcast or any of the other stuff but it sure is a big deal now. I didn’t arrest him. No one pressed charges. It is just that he started struggling with the police and when you get into a fight with the police they charge you.”
George Shea on the Fan 590 in Toronto on Nathan’s contest and Kobayashi controversy
Tags: 2010 Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest, 4-time defending champion, Coney Island is where Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest is held each year, Jaws, Joey Chestnut, joey chestnut defending champion, Kobayashi contract dispute, MLE contract dispute with Kobayashi, Takeru Kobayashi, The Tsunami
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