In a devastating blow to the world's biggest competitive eating event, Japanese legend Takeru Kobayashi is not expected to participate in the annual Fourth of July hot dog eating contest on Coney Island because of a contract dispute.
It's possible that this contract dispute is nothing more than a publicity stunt, as the folks at Major League Eating are famous for their ability to generate attention for their events. But all indications are that Kobayashi really is holding out for more money, and that he won't eat on the Fourth if he doesn't get what he wants.
If Kobayashi doesn't show up, Chestnut would become an even bigger favorite than he already is. Chestnut is the three-time defending champion, and last year he set a new record by eating 68 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes. In all three of Chestnut's winning performances on the Fourth of July, Kobayashi has come in second, and the third-place finisher hasn't even come close.
But while Chestnut would benefit from Kobayashi's absence, the fans would miss out. The Kobayashi-Chestnut duel has become a major annual event, and it just won't feel the same if Chestnut is beating a weakened field. Let's all hope Kobayashi and Major League Eating can reach a deal in the next six days.