Blacklisted competitive eater Takeru Kobayashi spoke today, shedding some light on his ongoing battle with Major League Eating and describing his night in jail after bumrushing the stage at last year's Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest.
Regarding the League, "I didn’t agree with the way the organization was treating the athletes...Athletes are constantly in fear, and it’s not just about me," Kobayashi told Time Out. He explained that MLE places all sorts of restrictions on athletes, barring them from participating in competitions that aren't sanctioned by the League, or doing TV or commercials, or even appearing in public with a hot dog. And as for that whole climbing onstage thing, "I did it because I really love my fans," Kobayashi says. His resulting night in jail was "one of the longest nights I've ever known," though he did manage to befriend another inmate who was behind bars for stabbing his mother.
As for this year's 4th of July, the Kobayashi will be competing in the hot dog eating contest live via satellite from the rooftop lounge at 230 Fifth in Flatiron, where he says he's keen to break the world record (currently held by Joey Chestnut with 68). Because Kobayashi is a free man now, and free men eat hot dogs wherever they damn well please!