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Whitewashed! More disgrace for Kobayashi as Nathan’s removes him from ‘Wall of Fame’

The Brooklyn Paper

A landmark for hot dog lovers is now the site of revisionist history.

Organizers of the Nathan’s hot dog eating contest in Coney Island have erased international legend Takeru Kobayashi — the six-time world champion — from the arena’s “Wall of Fame,” a stunning push from grace for the man who once had the world on a sausage-string.

After all, Kobayashi’s the Abe Lincoln of eaters, and the wall is the sport’s Mt. Rushmore.

George Shea, the executive director of Major League Eating, the governing body of all duodenum-defying sports, disagreed.

“This is not Mt. Rushmore,” he said. “This is not a museum. This is not a Hall of Fame.”

The action, while stunning from a historical perspective was expected after the Japanese jawbreaker’s refusal to sign a contract with the league last year, saying he wanted to be free to compete in non-league events. The decision was costly — resulting in his expulsion from the annual Coney Island contest. His humiliation was believed to be complete when he was arrested after he bun-rushed the stage just at the end of the 2010 contest.

But further humiliation was forthcoming. His place on the wall is now occupied by Sonya “The Black Widow” Thomas, who has never won the contest. Shea again blamed Kobayashi for his Greek tragedy of a fall from grace.

“Kobayashi actively removed himself from the world of professional eating and as a result, we must make room for those who will continue to engage in professional eating,” Shea said. “We did not drive him away. He changed what he wanted.”

But the gustatory Godzilla fired back, saying his legacy will live on.

“Images can be taken off the wall, but I hope the history stays with the memories the people have,” Kobayashi said through spokeswoman Maggie James. “I respect the many players who left the contest before me and continue to do so, for freedom — and in search of new beginnings in competitive eating.”

But the league is still leaving room for Kobayashi’s return.

“This is not to say that he won’t be up there again,” said Shea, who has made overtures to Kobayashi, but the eater has shunned all overtures to return to the table (negotiating or otherwise).

This is not the first time the wall has defied its own glorious history. Last year, league officials removed dog deities Ed “The Maspeth Monster” Krachie, Mike “The Scholar” Devito, “Hungry” Charles Hardy, Eric “Badlands” Booker and Amos Wengler, the “Bard” of Coney Island, claiming that none of men had fame anymore.

The Kobayashi incident isn’t the only change in store for the historic contest. The league announced this week that the contest would feature a separate women’s competition.

“The accomplishments of women have not been fully recognized because of the accomplishments of the men,” said Shea.

Last year, winner Joey Chestnut gobbled 54 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes. The top female challenger Thomas ate 36 in the same time, enough for fourth place.

“I’m not saying they can’t compete,” Shea said. “This about getting more recognition for them.”

Updated 3:49 pm, April 22, 2011: Includes a new quote from Kobayashi.
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Reader Feedback

Steph from Midwood says:
Kobayashi lost two years in a a row to Joey, that is why he didn't want to sign a contract -- he'd lose again and it would be obvious. so the "fight" is good for him because he cant beat Joey anyway.
April 22, 2011, 11:26 am
harris from south slope says:
He lost 3 times to Joe Chestnut. If you look at the wall which I did yesterday. Four's not a charm I guess, easier to make the hot dog execs look silly than lose a fourth time! Go America! Go JOE!
April 22, 2011, 8:29 pm
Mike from Las Vegas says:
He wouldn't sign the contract because it said he would not be allowed to compete in other non-league competitions. It is as simple as that.
April 23, 2011, 7:30 pm
Han from Seoul says:
Kobayashi just broke the record with 69 dogs...
July 4, 2011, 2:44 pm
Robert says:
Shame on MLE for not allowing Kobayashi to compete.
July 4, 2011, 8:11 pm
mike hunt from north pole says:
Dumb yanks!
July 4, 2011, 10:10 pm
SFGIANTS from SoMA says:
Kobi ate 69!!!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NWXGlNCEPLQ
July 5, 2011, 9:55 am
Johnny "The Gut" Johnson from Hotdogville says:
Kobayashi beat him last year, off site, but beat him all the same. George Shea and his filthy band of criminals are just trying to keep control over competitive eating, trying to make sure they end up with as much money from as many events as possible. They are ruining the sport, they are stifling competition with their greed. They are greedy control freak bastards, nothing more.
Feb. 6, 2012, 4:15 am
patiat from Carroll Gardens says:
Once scumbags get involved and corporatize events like this, things like this happen.
July 4, 2012, 8:54 pm
Anonymous from Mars says:
the white man keeping everyone down once again
July 5, 2012, 11:20 am

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