For almost ten years, Takeru Kobayashi, of Japan, amazed audiences with his ability to eat numerous hot dogs at the annual hot dog eating contest at Coney Island, New York.
However, in 2010, Kobayashi was banned as part of a labor dispute with Major League Eating (MLE), which both organizes the contest.
Kobayashi told SB Nation that he didn’t want to be beholden to MLE for a whole year’s worth of eating and endorsements just for the right to compete at Coney Island.
Richard Shea, of the MLE, said the exclusivity part of the contract was non-negotiable. He told the New York Daily News: “His saying this is like Tom Brady saying he’d like to be in the Super Bowl, but not in the NFL.”
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Under the contract, Kobayashi would be limited to 4 events and, if the prize money he won from those events totaled more than $100,000, MLE would keep the balance. Kobayashi would also be barred from endorsing other foods and products not approved by the MLE.
Kobayashi told SB Nation: “My belief is that the organization that produces the event cannot be the same agency that also owns the athletes. My belief is that there should be a body governing the contest, that each eater should belong to their own agent or their own agencies. The same organizing people cannot be the same body organizing the eaters.”