New York In a gut-busting showdown that combined drama, daring and indigestion, Joey Chestnut emerged Wednesday as the world's hot dog eating champion, knocking off six-time winner Takeru Kobayashi in a rousing yet repulsive triumph.
Chestnut, the great red, white and blue hope in the annual Fourth of July competition, broke his own world record by inhaling 66 hot dogs in 12 minutes - a staggering one every 10.9 seconds before a screaming crowd in Coney Island.
"If I needed to eat another one right now, I could," the 23-year-old Californian said after receiving the mustard yellow belt emblematic of hot dog eating supremacy.
Kobayashi, the Japanese eating machine, recently had a wisdom tooth extracted and received chiropractic treatment due to a sore jaw. But the winner of every Nathan's hot dog competition from 2001 to 2006 showed no ill effects as he stayed with Chestnut frank-for-frank until the very end of the 12-minute competition.
Kobayashi finished with 63 HDBs - hot dogs and buns eaten - in his best performance ever. His previous high in the annual competition was 53 1/2. The all-time record before Wednesday's remarkable contest was Chestnut's 59 1/2, set just last month.
The two gustatory gladiators quickly distanced themselves from the rest of the 17 competitors, processing more beef than a slaughterhouse within the first few minutes. The two had each downed 60 hot dogs with 60 seconds to go when Chestnut - the veins on his forehead extended - put away the final franks to end Kobayashi's reign.