Culver City, Calif. In a chewy chow-lenge, Takeru Kobayashi outlasted Joey Chestnut when the eating titans faced off to see who could devour the most pizzas.
Kobayashi, a six-time world hot dog eating champion from Japan, consumed 5 3/4 P’zones in a six-minute span of chaotic consumption Saturday to edge Chestnut. The 25-year-old from San Jose, Calif., wolfed down 5 1/2 P’zones on Stage 15 at Sony Studios.
“I’m a little bummed,” Chestnut said. “There’s nobody I like beating more than him, he pushes me harder than anybody.”
The arch rivals are best known for their annual Fourth of July hot dog eating showdowns on New York’s Coney Island. Chestnut has beaten his Japanese competitor the last two years, winning last year in a five-dog eat-off after they tied at 59 frankfurters in 10 minutes.
This time, they went cheek-to-jowl in a stomach-centric contest sponsored by Pizza Hut featuring the P’zone, a pizza weighing one pound with pepperoni and other ingredients sealed inside a crust. At nearly 12 inches long, it resembles a calzone.
Jaw strength and stomach capacity were sorely tested in consuming one of the most filling foods on the competitive eating circuit.
Chestnut couldn’t keep up with his 31-year-old rival from Tokyo.
At the six-minute mark, Kobayashi raised his arms in triumph and lifted his red jersey to show off a set of washboard abs.
“It was tough. Kobayashi came to win,” Chestnut said. “I was raised on pizza so it was natural for me to eat it, but I was a little slow to get going and he came out fast.”
The thought of a Japanese outeating an American in a pizza contest wasn’t lost on Kobayashi, who is recovering from TMJ, a painful jaw disorder.
“I love pizza,” he said. “When I come to America, pizza is my happiness. I look forward to eating it.”