My favorite event of the Summer, the Annual Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Championship was held yesterday. Joey Chestnut made it 5 in a row downing 62 Hot Dogs and Buns in 10 minutes of time. His nearest competitor – Patrick Bertoletti – set a personal best with 53 dogs consumed. This event also was the first appearance by three competitors from China that were flown in to participate. (Nathan’s coincidentally is opening up a number of chain stores in China, so it strictly is a marketing ploy to be sure)

Meanwhile in the world of competitive eating, controversy still reigns supreme. Across town at another locale, 230 Fifth Avenue – namely a rooftop bar in mid-town Manhattan, six-time champ Takeru Kobayashi downed a record 69 hot dogs to become the unofficial winner of this year’s annual Nathan’s hot dog eating competition.

The establishment broadcasted the sanctioned Nathan’s Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Competition in real-time on ESPN. Kobayashi went up against the competitors on the big screen in a sort of “simulcast eating event” and beat the competitors in the official competition by 7 dogs.

Questions immediately were raised. Are these the same size Hot Dogs at are at Nathan’s? Did the proximity to the boardwalk on Coney Island and the sheer volume of spectators make the conditions more hot and humid versus the high rise, breezier and cooler conditions in which Kobayshi quote “competed” ? Would Chestnut have kicked it into another gear had he had his sights on Kobayashi immediately to his left or right?

Last year in protest, Kobayashi was arrested at the Nathan’s event after he climbed over a barrier and stormed the stage of the Nathan’s contest. He was protesting the fact that he was unable to come to an agreement contractually with the powers that oversee the world of competitive eating. (Which by the way according to an ESPN poll is not a sport….80% of the voters indicated it is cool to watch but not considered a sport)

Catching wind that there may be a simultaneous off site event featuring Kobayashi, MLE (Major League Eating ) president Richard Shea said earlier this week that his organization wouldn’t recognize Kobayashi’s achievement if he wins. “It’s a farce,” said Shea. “He’s not banned, he’s just mad he lost three years in a row.”

Kobayashi claims he has no hard feelings for the MLE. He just doesn’t want to sign a contract that restricts him.

Steven Greenberg, the owner of the bar where Kobayashi “unofficially” broke the record indicated Kobayashi was paid for his hot dog eating appearance but said it wasn’t an endorsement or promotional fee and wouldn’t disclose the amount.

Will this ever be settled? Will cooler heads prevail and we get to see once again Kobayashi versus Chestnut? Perhaps at the Nebraska State Fair?

Maybe they could battle in some sort of neutral food other than hot dogs? A few ideas…Pickled Eggs, Chocolate Ice Cream, Funnel Cakes, or my personal favorite (and yes someone does have a world record for this) Mayonnaise.

A new twist for 2011 – This year for the first time ever, the women got an event of their own and did not compete directly against the men. Sonya Thomas aka, the Black Widow downed forty dogs to take the first official Woman’s’ Title , a check for Ten Grand, and the now coveted Pink Belt.

The winner of the “Real “ Event gets a smooth $10,000 and more importantly the coveted Mustard Belt awarded to the winner of the Nathan’s Competition. For Chestnut he needs to clear out some more wall space.

Somehow I think that Aaron Rodgers with his “Championship Belt “ move on the football field would look better sporting one of the Mustard colored belts that would match the Packer Green just fine….but I digress….

Until Next time…Stay Classy at the unlimited buffet nights!

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Johnny Goodman writes a weekly sports column for The Soap Boxers. His articles can be found in The Goodman File.

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