Chestnut ends Kobayashi's reign as hot dog champion

Jul 4, 2007 - 6:18 PM BROOKLYN, New York (Ticker) -- Joey Chestnut is the new top dog.

In a thrilling finish, Chestnut dethroned six-time champion Takeru "Tsunami" Kobayashi on Wednesday to win the annual Nathan's hot dog eating competition on Coney Island.

Chestnut beat his own world record by chomping down a world-record 66 frankfurters in 12 minutes. He bested his previous mark of 59 1/2 hot dogs set in a qualifying event last month.

Chestnut had to eat to the very end against the valiant Kobayashi, who entered the competition with questions that he was fighting a sore jaw. The Japanese native looked healthy as he ate 63 hot dogs.

"I knew I had to go 100 percent," Chestnut told ESPN. "I just had to push harder.

"If I had to eat another right now, I could."

By winning the contest staged a block from the famed Coney Island boardwalk, Chestnut claimed the coveted Yellow Mustard Belt.

A crowd of more than 25,000 jammed the street to watch Chestnut and Kobayashi put on an eating display for the ages.

With under a minute remaining, Chestnut and Kobayashi were tied by eating 62 hot dogs apiece. Chestnut vaulted ahead for good in the final seconds, with the deciding result still in doubt until things went to the judges.

Chestnut set a blistering early pace and led for most of the way, jamming hot dogs and buns into his mouth at a sickening pace. He ate 20 hot dogs within the first two minutes and 35 by the time four minutes had passed.

But showing the heart of a champion, Kobayashi slowly narrowed his early deficit. He was within two hot dogs after eight minutes and tied things up at 57-57 after 10, setting the stage for a classic finish which had the crowd roaring.

Kobayashi set a world record last year in beating Chestnut at the competition when he devoured 53 3/4 hot dogs.

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