NEW YORK – A 160-pound wonder from Japan set a new record by devouring 53 3/4 frankfurters in 12 minutes to win the annual Independence Day hot dog eating competition on Coney Island.
He broke his own record of 53 1/2 hot dogs, set at the same competition two years ago.
Kobayashi's nauseating triumph was witnessed by thousands of raucous spectators who jammed the streets in front of the hot dog stand a block from the famed Coney Island boardwalk.
The champion eaters arrived just before noon in a bus from Manhattan, accompanied by a police escort.
Seasoned fans were on hand to see whether anyone would unseat Kobayashi — a top-ranked eater who once ate 17.7 pounds of pan-seared cow brains to win $25,000.
Kobayashi's strongest competition was Joey Chestnut, a 220-pound civil engineering student from San Jose, Calif., who set an American record by eating 50 hot dogs during a recent qualifying tournament in Las Vegas.
Other competitors included 100-pound Sonya "The Black Widow" Thomas, of Alexandria, Va., who once ate 65 hard boiled eggs in a little more than 6 1/2 minutes, and local favorite Eric "Badlands" Booker, a 6-foot-4, 425-pound subway conductor from Long Island who holds speed-eating records for pies and matzo balls.
Chestnut jumped out to an early lead in the competition, sometimes jamming franks into his mouth with two hands as the crowd roared.
But he was passed by Kobayashi with about three minutes left in the contest.
As Chestnut struggled, red-faced, with veins bulging in his forehead, the Japanese star methodically chomped dog after dog, often dipping them in a soft drink before cramming them into his mouth.
When the clock expired, Chestnut had swallowed 52 Nathan's franks — not quite enough.