American Snatches Kobayashi's Mustard Belt

Joey Chestnut scarfs 66 dogs, breaking record and upsetting 6-time champ.

ByABC News
February 10, 2009, 9:59 AM

July 4, 2007 — -- It was cheek-to-cheek, jaw-to-jaw, and when the final seconds ticked away, a photo finish revealed a new American champion.

Joey Chestnut, a California graduate student, unseated six-time defending champion Takeru Kobayashi of Japan at the 2007 Nathan's Famous International July Fourth Hot Dog Eating Contest.

On his way, he shattered his own record for hot dog consumption, slogging down 66 weiners in 12 minutes.

Kobayashi, whose jaw condition was questionable in the run up to this year's competition, swallowed 63 hot dogs -- keeping pace with Chestnut but never taking the lead."I feel like I ate 66 hot dogs," Chestnut said after his win, clutching the Mustard Belt as sweat rested on his brow. "I'm not feeling great but I feel awesome that I wonI thought I'd be feeling worse."

After his momentous loss, Kobayashi proclaimed that he'll be out for blood in 2008. "I will definitely beat him next year," Kobayashi pledged.

For a month now, today's 92nd edition of the world's most-famous celebration of mastication has been looked at with great anticipation, and the event did not disappoint.

Both Chestnut and Kobayashi began the race consuming hot dogs at a blistering clip, and two and half minutes in, each competitor had consumed 23 hot dogs.

As the 14 other competitors faded into the background, the defending champion and the upstart were eating in their finest form. Kobayashi, seemingly permanently hunched over the table, tore his dogs and buns in two and simultaneously shoved both halves into his mouth. To his left, Chestnut put dog after dog straight into his mouth while periodically standing up straight and convulsing his body in apparent pain.

"I was clenching the muscles in my abdomen and putting everything down," Chestnut said after the match, describing his expressive technique.

Chestnut held a two or three dog lead for most of the race, but with 2 minutes left Kobayashi had caught up, and according to the hot dog counter, the two were even at 57 dogs each. With a minute left, the massive crowd, banging their mustard-colored Nathan's noisemakers, knew they were in for a record-breaking day when both Chestnut and Kobayashi ate their 60th wiener respectively, surpassing the record of 59.5 hot dogs the American had set last month.