Joey Chestnut to defend Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Championship against Kobayashi

It’s the Fourth of July on Saturday and you know what that means: America versus Japan in an annual battle for patriotic supremacy via competitive eating.

Those of us in the sporting world who appreciate the lengths that sportspeople put their bodies through in the name of their calling have immense respect for the likes of Joey Chestnut and Takeru Kobayashi, who were the stars of an epic battle last July 4 at the Nathan’s Hot-Dog Eating Contest. Chestnut, the Californian who broke the Nagano native’s streak of six consecutive titles in 2007 at the world’s most famous competitive eating event, proved that it wasn’t a fluke by besting the former champ again in a pulsating five-dog eat-off after a tie. Chestnut is back to defend his belt at the traditional fourth of July bellybuster.

While the current champ can feel good about his chances of a threepeat – or should that be threep-eat? – Kobayashi recently sounded a warning by beating Chestnut in a warm-up event in May at the SpikeTV Guys’ Choice Awards in Los Angeles. Kobayashi reeled in Chestnut to win the Pizza Hut P’Zone Chow-lenge – a portent of events to come?

As for those who want to place a bet on the outcome, don’t be discouraged when Chestnut chows out to an early lead. Competitive eating is a test of stamina, and Kobayashi’s trademark in his battles with Chestnut is to come home like a steam train. A steam train stuffed with hot dogs.

Those who want to join the 20,000-strong crowd on the day are advised to get there early to get a decent position – though Nathan’s has hired a Jumbotron for the first time this year – and partygoers will be entertained by the following cavalcade of mystery and wonder:

In addition, there will be a neat-eating contest for children, a high-flying trampoline act, and The Coney Island Strong Man Deth-Defying Act of Strength. Event organizers urge viewer discretion on the Deth-Defying Act of Strength and will literally have clergy present in case The Coney Island Strong Man dies.

If only such precautions had been taken for Michael Jackson. Finally, if you can’t make it on the big day, make sure to attend the Friday extravaganza, where the first ever cross-species competitive eating contest will take place between three humans and three elephants from Ringling Bros circus. Ah, Coney Island.