Legendary competitive eater Takeru Kobayashi made headlines once again this weekend when he emerged victorious at the annual Wing Bowl. In front of a screaming crowd of 20,000 fans, winning $20,000, Kobayashi smashed all records when he devoured 337 chicken wings in 30 minutes. At a little over ten wings a minute, Kobayashi can eat more in sixty seconds than I usually can in one sitting. This guy is a beast.
Kobayashi’s career has been going strong for over a decade now, beating wave after wave of hungry, fat Americans to claim numerous eating titles. Where did this guy get his start?
Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest
Nothing has made Kobayashi more famous than his incredible success in the annual Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest.
This competition, held every year on July 4 in Coney Island, gained fame in the 90s when a handful of other competitive Japanese eaters came onto the scene.
Historically, Americans had reigned supreme at Nathan’s, so it was a bit of a surprise when some skinny Japanese guys started winning.
But nothing could prepare the world for Kobayashi’s hot-dog dominance.
From 2001 to 2006, Kobayashi went undefeated in the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest, owning the competition and setting five world records for hot dog eating in the process. For those six years, he was untouchable.
In the process of winning all those titles, Kobayashi became a minor celebrity in the US. He appeared on a TV show to compete with a bear in a hot dog eating contest. For the record, the bear won – but it’s claimed that Kobayashi beat the bear in rehearsal.
But there have been definite dark spots in Kobayashi’s career in consumption as well.
He lost his hot dog eating title a few years back in a stunning defeat, and actually is banned from Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest due to contracting disputes. In 2010, Kobayashi was arrested at the hot dog eating contest he once reigned over.
There were rumors that Kobayashi had even retired from eating altogether.
Return and the Wing Bowl
Recently though, things are looking up for Kobayashi. Even thought he’s been barred from competing at Nathan’s, he continues to dominate other eating contests. Last year, he ate along to a live broadcast of the Nathan’s contest and not only beat the winner, but set a new world record.
He’s been interviewed on Reddit and fashion magazine The Block, where his shirtless photo spreads made him look more like a model than a guy who eats things for a living.
And the Wing Bowl? That’s the cherry on top to his comeback.
While this video of Kobayashi’s Wing Bowl entrance shows that he doesn’t always get the warmest reception, Kobayashi remains resilient.
The boos and jeers shouldn’t get Kobayashi down; he’s been through a lot more. Having gone to the top of the competitive eating world and back, been beaten, turned back and even arrested, the only thing Kobayashi should worry about is maybe some indigestion.