I've chronicled the lead up to this year's hot dog eating contest on July 4 at Nathan's in Brooklyn (most recently here). Regular readers are aware that Takeru Kobayashi developed 'jaw arthritis' shortly after American Joey Chestnut shattered the record he set at Nathan's last year. Now, Kobayashi is taking to the airwaves to assure us that he's really injured:
Takeru Kobayashi dismissed speculation Friday that his recent jaw ailment could be a ploy against his main rival at the Nathan's hot dog eating championship next week in New York.
"That's not even funny," the 29-year-old Japanese eating machine said. "I don't even have time to think about that."
After his disclosure this week that he has a creaky jaw and he is getting treatment, some, including ESPN host Tony Kornheiser, suggested that Kobayashi was trying to lull American Joey Chestnut into complacency.
Chestnut gained the hot dog record five weeks ago, eating 59 1/2 dogs to Kobayashi's 53 3/4. They are expected to be among the competitors at the Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest at Nathan's Famous at New York's Coney Island on Wednesday. Kobayashi is looking for his seventh consecutive title.
This certainly raises the stakes for this year's contest.