There are a few more details about the strange arrest of competitive eater Takeru Kobayashi after Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest. Kobayashi, who claimed he was not participating in the event he won six times because of a dispute with Major League Eating organizers (hence the "Free Kobi" shirt), had been watching the event from the crowd. Apparently the crowd's chanting of his name inspired him to rush the stage; he said, "I went as a spectator to cheer on my buddies that I used to eat with. Everyone in the crowd kep chanting 'let him eat, let him eat'. So I jumped onto the stage to prove that I am still the champ, but I was arrested."
His lawyer claims that a Nathan's rep gestured for him to come onto the stage. Only he was arrested for obstruction of governmental administration; resisting arrest; trespassing and disorderly conduct. A judge freed the 32-year-old who pleaded not guilty to charges. Staying on message, Kobayashi said, "I am very hungry. I wish there were hot dogs in jail."
One spectator told the Daily News, "He's trying to upstage Joey," referring the the four-time champion Joey Chestnut. "He should have just competed and signed the contract." The Post's witnesses were split, with one thinking, "I thought he was going to congratulate Chestnut as he was lifting up his belt," but another said, "For all I know, he was going up there to punch him out." Punch Chestnut out for eating 14 less hot dogs than he did last year?
George Shea, MLE chairman, said, "It was extremely unfortunate and a little bizarre. It makes you think about his thought process. It was not appropriate." However, Kobayashi's manager insisted, "He just wanted a chance to eat and break the record and prove that he was the real champion. Unfortunately, he was unable to reach an agreement with the organizers." While we're not sure if Kobayashi would have bested Chestnut, we do think it would have been a more exciting contest.
For his part, Chestnut claims he was dehydrated, which impaired his performance, "It’s all right. I beat the competition. If anyone else was here, I would have beaten them too." And before he knew of his archrival's arrest, Chestnut said of Kobayashi, "If he was real man, he’d be on the stage. There was no reason for him not to be here."