Ex-Champ Arrested at 4th of July Hot Dog Eating Contest
Kobayashi did not compete in this year's contest. (Associated Press)
Competitive eater Joey "Jaws" Chestnut gobbled his way to a fourth consecutive championship Sunday.
But he was suddenly upstaged by the surprise appearance of his biggest rival - six-time champion Takeru Kobayashi, who did not compete but crashed the stage after Chestnut's win and wrestled with police.
"Let him eat! Let him eat!" the crowd chanted as police handcuffed the world's No. 3 professional eater, dubbed "The Tsunami."
The 32-year-old Kobayashi did not eat this year because he refused to sign a contract with Major League Eating - the fast food equivalent of the NFL.
On his Japanese-language blog, he said he wanted to be free to compete in contests sanctioned by other groups.
But a few days ago, he told Japan's Kyodo News: "I really want to compete in the event."
Kobayashi mingled with the crowd watching the contest, standing inside a police-barricaded pen just under the stage.
When the eating ended, he slipped up the stage stairs and was welcomed by host George Shea.
Then, several security officers appeared and tried to usher him off.
He grabbed a metal police barricade with both hands, holding on tightly as the officers pulled at him.
Finally, they dragged him down the stairs, with Kobayashi resisting vehemently.
He was under arrest Sunday afternoon, charged with resisting arrest, trespass and obstructing governmental administration
"There's a contract dispute, so they weren't giving him his freedom," said Kobayashi's interpreter, Maggie James.
Minutes earlier, Chestnut downed 54 hot dogs in 10 minutes to win the annual Nathan's Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest, televised live on ESPN.
The runner-up was Tim "Eater X" Janus, with a total of 45. Patrick "Deep Dish" Bertoletti came in third with 37 dogs.
Chestnut was disappointed with his performance, despite claiming the bejeweled, mustard-yellow belt plus a $20,000 purse. The 26-year-old from San Jose, Calif., was aiming for a record 70 dogs in 10 minutes, beating his own record of 68 last year.
"I was dehydrated going in," he told The Associated Press, explaining that he did not drink enough liquids the day before because he was striving for an emptier stomach.
After witnessing the drama involving Kobayashi, Chestnut said, "I feel bad for him."