Japanese speed-eating legend Takeru Kobayashi defeated his arch-rival and reigning champ Joey Chestnut to reclaim the world hamburger eating title on Sunday at the Krystal Square Off World Hamburger Eating Championship in Chattanooga.
The 31-year-old from Japan earned a score of 93 Krystal hamburgers in eight minutes, setting a world record under a new no-dunking rule established by the Krystal Company. Chestnut, of San Jose, Calif., finished second with 81.
Kobayashi’s victory over Chestnut before a live televised audience and a crowd of more than 10,000 puts him back on top of the sport he brought into the American mainstream more than eight years ago, only to see his star fall the past three years following several high-profile losses, including a loss to Chestnut at last year’s championship in Chattanooga.
“We knew today’s Krystal Square Off championship was going to be a battle for the ages with Kobayashi hoping to reclaim his glory and Chestnut defending his two-year reign as champ, and both eaters did not disappoint,” said Brad Wahl, vice president of marketing, The Krystal Company. “Kobayashi’s commanding win over Chestnut proved once again why he is the sport’s biggest star.”
“Kobayashi came into Chattanooga needing a win. He got it and then some,” said Richard Shea, president of Major League Eating, the governing body of all stomach-centric sports. “The 12 Krystal margin revives his rivalry with Joey Chestnut and caps what was a great Krystal Square Off season. At the end, Kobayashi seemed to hit his head on the ceiling of his own self worth; lucky for him the faux hawk provided cushion.”
Presented by the Krystal Company, the Krystal Square Off is the only world hamburger eating championship sanctioned by Major League Eating.
Kobayashi has now won the Krystal Square Off four of its six years. He pockets $20,000 for the victory, along with the coveted Krystal Square Off Champion’s Belt and Trophy made out of crystal. Chestnut earns $10,00 for his second place finish. Patrick Bertoletti, who finished third with 76, takes away $5,000. The remaining finalists receive payouts ranging from $3,000 to $500. The $50,000 total cash purse is the largest in competitive eating.
The Krystal Square Off introduced new rules this year that forced competitors to change their strategies. First, eaters were no longer allowed to dunk their hamburgers in liquid in an effort to eliminate “detritus” during the competition. Also new this year, every eater was given five Big Angus Burgers at the start of the competition in addition to their tray of Krystal hamburgers. Each Big Angus Burger consumed added five hamburgers to an eater’s total count.
The official results are as follows:
Takeru Kobayashi, Tokyo, Japan – 93 (68 Krystals, 5 Big Angus Burgers*)
Joey “Jaws” Chestnut, San Jose, Calif. – 81 (56 Krystals, 5 Big Angus Burgers)
Pat “Deep Dish” Bertoletti, Chicago, Ill. – 76 (51 Krystals, 5 Big Angus Burgers)
“Humble” Bob Shoudt, Philadelphia, Pa. – 71 (46 Krystals, 5 Big Angus Burgers)
Sonya “The Black Widow” Thomas, Alexandria, Va. – 65 (40 Krystals, 5 Big Angus Burgers)
Hall “Hoover” Hunt, Jacksonville, Fla. – 60 (35 Krystals, 5 Big Angus Burgers)
Tim “Eater X” Janus, New York, N.Y. – 59 (34 Krystals, 5 Big Angus Burgers)
Erik “The Red” Denmark, Seattle, Wash. – 58 (33 Krystals, 5 Big Angus Burgers)
Tim “Gravy” Brown, Chicago, Ill. – 52 (27 Krystals, 5 Big Angus Burgers)
Jim “Buffalo” Reeves – 50 (25 Krystals, 5 Big Angus Burgers)
Eric “Badlands” Booker, Long Island, N.Y. – 47 (22 Krystals, 5 Big Angus Burgers)
Tyler Allen, Chattanooga – 8 (8 Krystals, 0 Big Angus Burgers)
Krystal has been hosting eating contests ever since it first opened its doors in 1932. Indeed, Krystal’s second customer, Roy Ward, claimed he could eat twice as many Krystals as French Jenkins, the chain’s first customer. He did just that by eating 12 Krystals, and according to legend invented the famous Krystal Sackful in the process. The years have passed, but Krystal Lovers have never stopped challenging each other to Krystal Eating Contests. This longstanding tradition became official in 2004 with the first Krystal Square Off World Hamburger Eating Championship.