Mayor Bloomberg slammed former hot dog–eating champion Takeru Kobayashi for his stunning decision to skip Sunday’s contest in Coney Island as a move more suited to a coward than a giant of eating.
In a shocking moment at today’s ceremonial weigh-in at City Hall, the mayor channeled Harry Truman after being asked how he felt when he heard the international news that Kobayashi had bowed out of a repeat contest with Joey Chestnut, the American who has beaten him three years in a row.
“Well, you know what they say: If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen,” the mayor said, drawing gasps from the press corps.
In doing so, the mayor has added his voice to a growing chorus of naysayers convinced that Kobayahsi is ducking a rematch with the world record holder. But the head of the International Federation of Competitive Eating, the governing body of all stomach-centric sports, continued his spin that the controversy is simply about money.
“We have never stopped negotiating with Kobayashi to bring him here,” said IFOCE Executive Director George Shea. “We want him here. Nathan’s wants him here. The fans want him here. And he himself has said he wants to be here. So why won’t he work out [a contract] with us that will bring him here?”
Shea’s exasperation was not shared by Chestnut, who ate 68 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes last year, defeating Kobayashi by a resounding three-and-a-half HDBs.
The champion said he didn’t care if Kobayashi came or not.
“I always go for a new record either way,” he said, dismissing the argument that the legendary Kobayashi constantly pushed Chestnut to greatness. “To me, 69, 70 sound like good numbers.”
Chestnut said he has already started focussing his attention on the world’s number two eater, Bob “The Notorius B.O.B.” Shoudt, who has actually beaten Chestnut in grits-, ribs- and chili spaghetti-eating contests.
“Bob will push me enough,” Chestnut said.
In a related side note, the mayor said he enjoys his Nathan’s hot dog with relish and “a bit of mustard.”
Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest [corner of Surf and Stillwell avenues in Coney Island, (212) 627-5766], July 4, noon.