– Takeru Kobayashi, taken into custody after trying to storm stage – The Fourth of July and Coney Island, combined with America’s favorite hot dog from Nathan’s Hot Dog Company, can only mean one thing: the 95th annual Nathan’s Hot Dog eating contest.   Coney Island is said to be the birthplace of fast food. German butcher Charles Feltman sold the first hot dog on Coney Island in 1870. His Polish-born employee, Nathan Handwerker, opened his own business in 1916, Nathan’s Famous, which remains the backdrop to the contest which started the same year. “This contest is the most prestigious event in the competitive eating world. It’s the Super Bowl of competitive eating,” said Eric “Badlands” Booker, a contestant in this year’s contest. Live on ESPN, Americans watched Joey “Jaws” Chestnut gobble his way to a fourth consecutive championship after devouring 54 hot dogs in 10 minutes. He will retain the bejeweled prize possession of the coveted mustard yellow belt plus a $20,000 cash prize. Despite his win, the 26-year-old from San Jose, Calif., was disappointed with his performance. His goal was to beat last year’s record and aim for 70 dogs in 10 minutes. Tim “Eater X” Janus was the runner-up, with a total of 45 hot dogs. Patrick “Deep Dish” Bertoletti came in third with 37 dogs. Eric “Badlands” Booker ate a total of 24 hot dogs. “I had big fun in the sweltering heat,” Booker said. The heat may have been a factor to why everyone’s numbers were so low this year. “No worries or excuses. I’ll do better next time,” said Booker. Around 70,000 people turned out this Fourth of July to witness Chestnut defend his title, which was quickly upstaged by Takeru “The Tsunami” Kobayashi’s arrest. Where was Kobayashi this year? He was barred from this year’s contest due to a contract dispute with Major League Eating; however, this did not deter him from attending the event as a spectator. Shortly after Chestnut was crowned this year’s winner, Kobayashi crashed the stage and was quickly grabbed by police officers. He was arrested and charged with resisting arrest, trespassing and obstructing governmental administration. Kobayashi was released on his own recognizance the Monday following his arrest. Major League Eating released a statement after the arrest of Kobayashi: “Takeru Kobayashi’s actions at the Hot Dog Contest in Coney Island were inappropriate and unfortunate, but it did not diminish Joey Chestnut’s victory, or the holiday tradition that dates back generations. Kobayashi was a great champion and we hope that he is able to resolve his current situation and move past this.” “Don’t try this at home,” said Booker. “Step up to the plate, it’s a battlefield out there.” For more information on competitive eating, visit www.ifoce.com. Photo: The 95th annual Nathan’s Hot Dog eating contest is a July Fourth must-see event.

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