Tomo 6
Numero 5
December 2004


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Japan’s record hotdog eater out
to put down 69 hamburgers

TOKYO (AFP) - A slender 26-year-old from Japan who is the undefeated champion in hot-dog eating competitions has broadened his repertoire, wowing an American crowd by munching 69 hamburgers in eight minutes.

Takeru Kobayashi, who has made a full-time career out of his unusual talent and become a celebrity in Japan, took home 10,000 dollars after stuffing himself at the contest in Chattanooga, Tennessee, media reports said.

"Kobayashi is, without a doubt, the greatest eater ever to live upon planet Earth," said David Baer of the International Federation of Competitive Eating.

Second-place went to Sonya Thomas, a Virginia woman who in the allotted eight minutes Saturday could eat a mere 46 of the miniature square burgers cooked up by Krystal, a fast-food chain in the US south.

Kobayashi has triumphed four years straight at the July 4 hot-dog contest in New York City, this year breaking his previous record by swallowing 53 and a half frankfurters.

Weighing only 60 kilograms, Kobayashi has astonished gluttons more inclined to binge-eating. The Japanese man says he has mastered a technique to win by snapping food in two and shoving both parts in his mouth.

Kobayashi also holds records for eating cow brains — eight kilos in 15 minutes — and traditional Japanese rice balls at nine kilos in half an hour.

The Japanese tend to be more moderate eaters but, thanks in part to Kobayashi, competitive eating has become a television sensation with "food fighters" downing everything from sushi to cakes.

But the television began to shy away from such contests after a 14-year old junior high school student choked to death in 2002 trying to imitate competitive eating during school lunch.

Despite repeated warnings from authorities about the danger, such contests remain popular at local festivals in Japan.

On November 6, a 38-year-old woman choked to death after gorging on bread and barley noodles at a local fall festival.

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