Japanese Man Wins Hot Dog Contest

ByABC News

N E W   Y O R K, July 4, 2000 -- A 100-pound Japanese mattress salesman known as “The Rabbit”set a new world record today by eating more than 25 hot dogs in12 minutes at Nathan’s annual Independence Day hotdog-eating contest in Coney Island.

Kazutoyo Arai, 32, came from Saitama, Japan, to beat out his 391-pound American rival. Reigning hot dog champ Steve “The Terminator” Keiner, 35, ofAtlantic City, N.J., won last year’s contest by downing 21-plus hot dogs in 12 minutes. But Keiner finished in the middle of the pack this year, only eating15 franks and buns.

After the contest, Arai, who wolfed down 24 hot dogs duringa 1997 contest, said he has been training for the Nathan’sFamous event all year. He said on Monday night he had eaten enough“Chinese food for 10 people.”

Arai promised to be back next year to defend his title. Hewalked away with the coveted mustard-yellow International Belt,a huge red trophy and 20 pounds of Nathan’s hot dogs totake back to Japan.

An International Tradition

Dozens of people competed in the eating contest, which hasbeen held at Nathan’s Famous hot dog stand in Brooklyn’s ConeyIsland amusement park every Fourth of July since 1916.Contestants traveled to New York from all over the world toparticipate.

Two other Japanese contenders, Misao “The Big Banana”Fujita and Takako Akasaka, took second and third place in thecontest. Fujita ate 24 hot dogs, and Akasaka, theonly woman to enter the wiener fest, set a record by eating justover 22.

The best the Americans could do was fourth place. Alocomotive machinist, Steve Addicks. 41, of Finksburg, Md.,took the honors by eating 21 franks and buns.

The National Hot Dog Council estimates Americans will eat 88million hot dogs at Independence Day celebrations today.