The 2001 Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest
Dog Day in Coney as the Belt Stays in Japan
Never before in the history of sport has there been such a phenomenal win.
On July 4, 2001, 131-pound Takeru Kobayashi of Nagano, Japan, at 50 Nathan's hot dogs and buns in 12 minutes to obliterate the previous record of 25 1/8 hot dogs and buns set by compatriot, Kazutoyo Arai of Saitama in 2000. Arai himself upped his personal best to 31 hot dogs and buns this year.
Employing a technique that has already been dubbed the "Solomon Method" (splitting hot dogs and buns in half before eating), Kobayashi broke the American and world records in just more than five minutes. He continued eating at an unbelievable pace, finishing 50 at the buzzer.
Kobayashi, the "large quantity" eating champion of Japan, had eaten 60 hot dogs and buns in one hour at Nathan's in Coney Island on July 2nd as a training effort. He claims he will return to New York City next year to defend his title and set a new record.
The American competitive eating community was in complete disarray after the event. Three competitors retired and others felt demoralized and embarrassed. The overwhelming emotion at the arena was sadness as the Japanese once again took possession of the Coveted Mustard Yellow International Belt.
Last year, 100-pound Kazutoyo Arai, who set a new world record of 25 1/8 hot dogs and buns in 12 minutes, led a three-person Japanese squad that defeated 16 other athletes from England, Germany, Canada and throughout the United States. Misao Fujita dispatched 24 hot dogs and buns for second place while Ms. Takako Akasaka, the only female in the contest, ate 22 1/4 hot dogs and buns -- a new world record for female eaters -- to place third.
This is not the first time Japan has held the title. In 1996 Hirofumi Nakajima, a 5-foot, 6-inch noodle-eating champion from Japan, beat Nathan's world champ Ed Krachie, a 6-foot, 7-inch monster weighing in at 360 pounds. Nakajima then successfully defended his title on July 4, 1997 and July 4, 1998, setting a new world record of 21/2 hot dogs and buns in 12 minutes. Nakajima returned to Japan and ticker-tape parades with the spoils of victory: the Coveted Mustard Yellow International Belt. The loss of this belt, considered the World Cup of competitive eating, was a source of embarrassment for all Americans, and for hot dog lovers in particular.
While still in shock, many Americans believe there is a way to beat Kobayashi -- they just have not been able to determine what it is.
Can anyone Bring the Belt Back?