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Former hot dog eating champ arrested

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Former hot dog eating champ arrested
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Kobayashi arrested after hot dog contest
  • NEW: Not a publicity stunt, spokeswoman says
  • Rival Chestnut won this year's challenge
  • Kobayashi faces two misdemeanor charges

New York (CNN) -- He didn't compete for the hot dog eating title this year, but he did cause a scene at the contest.

Takeru Kobayashi was arrested at Coney Island after his rival, Joey Chestnut, won the annual Nathan's International Hot Dog Eating Contest.

The six-time champion of the contest was trying to make his way on stage after this year's event, according to a representative for Kobayashi and a New York police officer at the Brooklyn precinct booking desk.

The incident was not a publicity stunt, Maggie James, Kobayashi's spokeswoman, said Sunday night.

"He got excited when people chanted his name after the contest .... so he jumped up on the stage because he wanted his fans to see him and (he thought) maybe they would chant, 'Let him eat,'" James said, referring to a dispute that kept Kobayashi from the table this year.

Kobayashi -- who took home the title every year from 2001 to 2006 -- did not compete because of a contract dispute with Major League Eating. He watched from the stands.

Video: Ex-champ arrested after contest
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Chestnut won by consuming 54 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes. The win -- Chestnut's fourth straight -- was short of his 68-hot dog record set last year.

A statement from the New York Police Department's public affairs office following the arrest said Kobayashi was charged with two misdemeanors and one violation, with the violation considered a low-level charge similar to a traffic violation. The two misdemeanors were resisting arrest and obstructing government administration (specifically, interfering with police). The violation was trespassing.

Kobayashi was being held at a police precinct in Brooklyn, and it was unclear whether he had a lawyer or when he might have bail set.

His spokeswoman, James, said it appeared that he would spend the night in jail unless he could get a hearing -- unlikely on a Sunday night and also a holiday night.

In the days leading up to the event, Kobayashi said he loves the contest and he wanted to participate, but that the contract was too restrictive. Speaking through a Japanese interpreter, he said that all his income is earned through competitive eating. He said the new contract required by the competition would bar him from competing elsewhere in the United States or Canada for a year.

Both sides said contract negotiations went on until Saturday morning.

MLE chairman George Shea called Kobayashi's arrest "unfortunate."

"It makes you wonder what his thinking was," Shea said.

"Major League Eating made an enormous effort to get him into the contest," he added. "We wanted him there. Nathan's wanted him there. The fans wanted him there."

Hailing from Japan and weighing in at 160 pounds, Kobayashi, 31, rose to frank-feasting stardom in 2001 when he devoured 50 dogs, shattering the previously held record of 25 1/8.

But in 2007, having entered the challenge with a jaw injury, Kobayashi met his match in Chestnut.

Chestnut, the 230-pound contender from San Jose, California, downed 66 dogs to Kobayashi's 63 that year. Kobayashi has not won the competition since, and Chestnut is currently ranked No. 1 in competitive eating by the MLE.

For a hot dog to be counted as finished, competitors must consume both the hot dog and the bun.

Currently ranked third, Kobayashi still holds world records for eating cow brains (17.7 pounds in 15 minutes), lobster rolls (41 in 15 minutes) and rice balls (20 pounds in 30 minutes).

"This guy did great things for our sport," Shea said. "He's a fearsome competitor."

CNN's Ross Levitt and Susan Candiotti contributed to this report.

 
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