05Jul
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At yesterday’s Nathan’s Hot Dog eating contest at Coney Island, Kobyashi was arrested for trespassing, resisting arrest and obstructing governmental administration. The 32-year old and former Hot Dog eating champ did not compete in this year’s contest due to a contract dispute with Major League Eating (MLE) the group behind the event.

After the video you can read a statement from Kobyashi about his situation with MLE. This whole thing is pretty darned amusing to me. It will be interesting to see if the charges stand and where he goes from here with his career. He was once ranked #1 in the world and it would be sad to see a fall from grace (as it looks like that’s what’s happening). I guess only time will tell…until then..Free Koby!

My depressing and lengthy struggle is finally over.

Gradually over the past two years of my last contract with the International Federation of Competitive Eating, I came to realize that its one-sided exclusivity was overreaching, and I retained an attorney who attempted on several occasions to renegotiate with the IFOCE.

From my point of view there were opportunities for a win-win solution where each side could give and take, but the IFOCE was not in the mood to make any concessions whatsoever.

When the contract expired in February we entered negotiations on a new contract, but the IFOCE made even more oppressive demands than before.

For the first several years of my participation in the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest all of us competed without any contract whatsoever, but gradually contracts were introduced which have become more and more unfavorable to the competitors over the years.

It was through the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest that I was able to travel and meet the people of the world. In the course of twice setting the world hot dog eating record I have been able to meet so many wonderful people.

Because of that the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest holds a special place in my heart.

As long as my body permits I would like to continue to participate, but in order to compete this year I would have had to agree to a burdensome and unfair contract.

I would not be able to eat hot dogs in public or in any media.
I would not be able to appear on television without the permission of the IFOCE.
I would not be able to make any appearance in which I would eat quickly.
I would not even be able to be a judge or timekeeper in a competitive eating event.
More than from just a legal standpoint, I personally would have felt like I was in a straightjacket, unable to do anything.

I was ready and prepared to compete in the 2010 Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest, but because of a contract that I could not in good faith sign, it was not to be.

I recently received a O-1 visa to work in the United States, a visa granted to athletes judged to have “extraordinary abilty.” In my case that ability was competitive eating, being able to eat a lot of food very quickly. To accept an unfair and oppressive contract that would constrain the exercise of this ability would squander the effort put into obtaining this exceptional visa and the faith put in me by the authorities.

I didn’t need the appearance fee from Nathan’s. I would have appeared for free, and we let the IFOCE know that.

This year, in recognition of my first year as an Amerian resident, I intended to take the Nathan’s competition very seriously, and I prepared and trained specifically for eating hot dogs, with every intention of winning and setting a new world record.

But in spite of my desire to compete and win, in the end I could not accept a one-sided, unfairly restrictive contract.

Despite the personal importance to me of the Nathan’s event, on Independence Day to enter into a contract that was akin to slavery was not something that I could do. On such a day, freedom is what one should hope for.

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