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Weird News

After a Day in Court, Former Hot Dog Champ Relishes His Freedom

Aug 5, 2010 – 12:03 PM
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Ben Muessig

Ben Muessig Contributor

(Aug. 5) -- Takeru Kobayashi is free to eat.

After the famed competitive-eating champ got hit with criminal charges for rushing the stage at the Nathan's Famous International Hot Dog Eating Championship in Coney Island, a Brooklyn, N.Y., judge ruled his case adjourned in contemplation of dismissal.

That means that Kobayashi -- who faced charges of resisting arrest, obstructing governmental administration, trespassing and disorderly conduct -- will have a clean slate if he can keep out of trouble for six months.

"It requires you to stay out of trouble and obey the law," said Brooklyn Criminal Court Judge Jackie Williams. "If you adhere to those conditions, after a period of six months the case will be dismissed."

Kobayashi said his win in court nearly rivals his wins on the competitive-eating stage.

"It's a victory as well," he said, through his interpreter Maggie James. "It was a more nervous victory compared to the others."

The 32-year-old athlete told the press he was so happy with the decision that he plans to celebrate with a steak dinner -- though he promised the steak would be of a "normal" size.

Kobayashi, who for his court appearance swapped out his now-famous "Free Kobi" T-shirt for a polka-dotted suit and a multicolored dress shirt, also told reporters he'd "be careful" over the next six months to avoid any further legal trouble that could jeopardize his specialized type "O-1" visa.

Even if Kobayashi's record is cleared, he says he won't be clearing the plates at Major League Eating contests anytime soon.

Just days before the July Fourth Nathan's contest, Kobayashi bailed out of the competition, citing an exclusivity clause in the proposed Major League Eating contract that would bar him from competing in outside events or making media appearances without league approval.

"If it's the same contract, he won't sign it," said James.

That said, the eating phenom who won a stunning six Nathan's contests in a row before getting bested by current champ Joey "Jaws" Chestnut, is already planning his next competition -- an Aug. 21 pizza-eating event in Canada.

That event is not sanctioned by Major League Eating, but league executive director George Shea said he wished Kobayashi well.

"We would love to have him compete," said Shea. "If he doesn't want to be a part of Major League Eating, that's his decision. He's welcome to do anything he pleases, and we wish him luck in his endeavors."

The adjournment in contemplation of dismissal is good news not just for Kobayashi but also his fans -- three of whom gathered outside of the downtown Brooklyn courthouse during his hearing.

"[His arrest] was sad, as a fan, but at the same time I was proud because he stood up for his rights," said Emi Watanabe. "It's rare for a Japanese man to stand up and say what he believes in."
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