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AN EATING champion was freed after a night in a New York jail after gate-crashing a hot dog competition he had originally refused to enter.
Takeru Kobayashi had to be wrestled to the ground when he leapt on stage at New York’s Coney Island Fourth of July contest, apparently unable to resist the temptation to take part.
The Japanese six-times former champion pleaded not guilty in Brooklyn yesterday to charges of obstruction of governmental administration, resisting arrest, trespassing and disorderly conduct.
Kobayashi said yesterday that he’d gone there as a spectator, but fans began chanting for him. He says he went onstage “in the heat of it”, hoping officials would let him participate.
At the annual Nathan’s Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest Joey “Jaws” Chestnut gobbled his way to a fourth consecutive championship. He downed 54 hot dogs in 10 minutes to win the contest. But he was suddenly upstaged by the surprise appearance of his biggest rival, Kobayashi, who crashed the eating platform after Chestnut’s win.
“Let him eat! Let him eat!” the crowd chanted as officers handcuffed the world’s No 3 professional eater, dubbed “The Tsunami”.
Kobayashi, 32, did not compete this year because he refused to sign a contract with Major League Eating. On his Japanese-language blog, he said he wanted to be free to enter contests sanctioned by other groups.
But a few days ago, he told Japan’s Kyodo News: “I really want to compete in the (Coney Island) event.”
Wearing a black T-shirt that said “Free Kobi,” Kobayashi mingled with the crowd. When the eating ended, he slipped up the stage stairs.
Then, several security officers appeared and tried to usher him away. He grabbed a metal police barricade with both hands, clutching it tightly as the officers pulled at him. Finally, they dragged him down the stairs, with Kobayashi resisting.
Kobayashi’s interpreter and publicist, Maggie James said he had hoped the crowd would recognise him and he could offer them an eating demonstration “for free. But nobody knew he’d jump on-stage”.
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