Takeru Kobayashi (born March 15, 1978) is a Japanese competitive eater. He held the world record for hot dog eating for nearly six years, and holds several other eating records, including four Guinness Records for hot dogs, meatballs, Twinkies, hamburgers, and pasta.
Born in Nagano, Japan, Kobayashi set his first record at his rookie appearance on July 4, 2001, when he ate 50 hot dogs in 12 minutes at the Nathan's Coney Island hot dog-eating contest, doubling the previous record of 25. The record was so unexpected that when Kobayashi got to the later numbers, the organizers ran out of signs indicating how many dogs Kobayashi had eaten and had to resort to handwritten signs. Kobayashi would go on to break his own record three times in winning the contest six consecutive times (2001–2006).
On June 2, 2007, Joey Chestnut broke Kobayashi's record with 59.5 hot dogs and buns in a qualifying round for the annual Nathan's contest.
In the 2006 Krystal Square Off, Kobayashi's mark of 97 hamburgers was 30 better than his winning total in 2005 and 28 better than the World Record he set in 2004.
At a speed-eating contest in Hong Kong on August 13, 2005, Kobayashi consumed 83 vegetarian jiaozi dumplings in 8 minutes. The next day, he ate 100 roasted pork buns in 12 minutes. Kobayashi also won the 2005 Alka-Seltzer US Open of Competitive Eating, a three-hour IFOCE elimination tournament on ESPN, as well as the Glutton Bowl, a two-hour IFOCE eating special that aired on the Fox Network in 2002. However, on Fox's 2003 show Man vs. Beast, Kobayashi lost in an eating competition against a 1089-pound Kodiak bear, when he ate 31 bunless hot dogs in 2 minutes and 36 seconds to the bear's 50.
On August 5, 2006, Kobayashi set yet another world record at the Johnsonville World Bratwurst Eating Championship in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, by downing 58 bratwurst sausages in 10 minutes, shattering the previous record of 35 set the previous year by Sonya Thomas.
On September 23, 2006, Takeru Kobayashi set the world record at the Phantom Food Festival in Boston, Massachusetts, for eating 41 Summer Shack lobster rolls in 10 minutes, replacing the previous record of 22 rolls.
Other world-eating records held by Kobayashi include 17.7 pounds of cow brains in 15 minutes and 20 pounds (9 kg) of rice balls in 30 minutes.
On June 25, 2007, Kobayashi announced on his blog that he seriously injured his jaw during training. He stated that he could only open his jaw about the width of a fingertip. Kobayashi's participation in the July 4, 2007, Nathan's contest continued as scheduled. He was able to eat a personal record 63 hot dogs, though his mark was bettered by Chestnut's 66.
On July 4, 2008, Kobayashi once again competed in the Nathan's contest. He and Chestnut reached a tie of 59 hot dogs and buns each, but he came in second to Chestnut in a 5-dog tiebreaker eatoff.
Kobayashi went on to defeat Chestnut, May 31, 2009, in a Pizza Hut P'Zone competition at Sony Studios in Culver City, California. The competition aired on Spike TV on June 21.
On July 4, 2009, he competed again in the Nathan's contest. While he reached 64.5 hot dogs and buns, Chestnut beat him by 3.5 with 68 hot dogs and buns
Also on July 2009, Kobayashi visited Puerto Rico in a special appearance for Taco Bell's Why Pay More Challenge, eating 64 tacos in 15 minutes for a local charity.
On July 4, 2011, Kobayashi competed on the rooftop of a Manhattan bar simultaneously with the Nathan's Contest at Coney Island via a live video simulcast of the event. Kobayashi finished 69 hot dogs, one more than the officially recognized world record.
On January 23, 2012. Kobayashi went on The Wendy Williams Show to set the record for eating the most Twinkies in one minute, for the "Save The Twinkie" campaign, and set a new world record of 14 Twinkies.
On February 3, 2012, Kobayashi set the new Wing Bowl record for eating chicken wings at Wing Bowl XX, held at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. His total was 337 wings in his first competition in that event.