An End of an Era in Coney Island?

Nathan’s

Sad news from Deadspin.com. It looks like Kobayashi might be absent from the annual 4th of July Nathan’s hot dog eating contest. His mother recently died and he’s been on sabbatical.

“He’s not even in training,” the hot dog eating champion’s manager tells Shukan Gendai. “I haven’t heard a word from him about whether he’s going to take part in the July contest and there’s no way that I know to get in touch with him.”

And in related news…

American Joey Chestnut broke Kobayashi’s all-time record, and with the Nathan’s competition coming up July 4, amazingly, Kobayashi isn’t the favorite to win this time. And that’s if he even shows up.

In other competitive eating news, did you know that Eric “Badlands” Booker, one of Kobayashi’s top competitors was the matzo ball eating champ? According to Slate

The man to beat was the record holder (21 baseball-sized balls in 5 minutes, 25 seconds), Eric “Badlands” Booker. He is a New York City subway train conductor and a giant of a man at 420 pounds. I asked his advice, and we went to the small soup bowl displaying a few balls. He picked one up, felt and turned it, like Rodin contemplating a slab of marble. “Wow, these are pretty dense,” he said.

Nathan’s photo from Flickr.

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