Kobayashi became a household name and went on to win 6 consecutive Nathan’s Mustard Yellow Belts. He would break the 50-dog mark three times, including a then-record 54 in 2006. A 5-foot 8-inch, 128 pound Japanese man was dominating the American pastime of eating hot dogs.
In 2005, Joey Chestnut ate 32 hot dogs. In 2006, Chestnut became the second man to break the 50-dog barrier. The next year, he surpassed Kobayashi as the mouth of competitive eating with a record 66 hot dogs.
Since then, Kobayashi has had a falling out with Major League Eating that culminated in his boycott of the 2010 contest and subsequent arrested after trying to climb on stage in protest.
This year, Kobayashi will be eating hot dogs alone.
Instead he will compete from afar, eating alongside a live satellite feed of the contest on the roof of 230 FIFTH, a Manhattan bar. He’ll eat the very same Nathan’s hot dogs and buns, starting and finishing in time with the real competitors.
No word yet on a live-stream or broadcast partner for Kobayashi’s efforts.