Competitive Eating Champ Is Calling It Quits

'I no longer feel hunger,' says Takeru Kobayashi
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 23, 2024 4:52 AM CDT
Competitive Eating Champ Is Calling It Quits
Japanese competitive eater Takeru Kobayashi wolfs down chicken wings during SportsRadio WIP's Wing Bowl 2012 eating contest in Philadelphia.   (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

Six-time Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest champ Takeru Kobayashi isn't giving up hot dogs, but he's going to stop gobbling them by the dozen. In the Netflix documentary Hack Your Health—The Secrets of Your Gut, Kobayashi announced he is retiring because he's worried about what decades of competitive eating has done to his body, Fox News reports. "I worry about the consequences of my decision, but most importantly, I want to repair my brain and gut," he said. Kobayashi said his appetite has declined in recent years and he no longer feels hungry. He said he once went three days without eating.

"I hear people say they're hungry, and they look very happy after they've eaten," Kobayashi said. "I'm jealous of those people because I no longer feel hunger."

  • In the documentary, doctors analyzed Kobayashi's brain scans and found that areas of the brain connected to nausea are activated when the 46-year-old sees food, reports the New York Post. "Your brain still thinks you're in competition, in a state of eating highly processed food," neuropsychologist Annie Gupta told him.
  • Kobayashi's career took off in 2000, when he ate 60 plates of sushi, 16 bowls of ramen, and 6 pounds of potatoes on a Japanese show called TV Champion, CBS Sports reports. He set world records numerous times, including in 2012, when he devoured 337 chicken wings in half an hour.

  • Kobayashi said he's retiring because he wants to "live a healthy and long life." He plans to eat healthy food in small portions from now on, but hot dogs will still be on the menu. "Throughout my career, what's influenced me more than competitive eating is the hot dog," he said, per Fox. "I want to create a healthier hot dog by combining it with healthy Japanese ingredients."
(More Takeru Kobayashi stories.)

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