Scene from 2022's eatathon. (Image: YouTube screen grab)

The annual Nathan’s Famous Coney Island Hot Dog Eating Contest is only a few weeks away, but this year’s competition will lack a familiar face. Takeru Kobayashi, who has won the contest six times, has announced that he is retiring. The competitive eater, who is 46, cited health concerns as the main factor in his decision.

Kobayashi’s professional eating career began in 2000. He managed to down 16 bowls of ramen in one hour on the Japanese television show “TV Champion.”

The experience primed the pump for his first appearance at Nathan’s. He not only won the coveted Mustard belt and first place prize money but set a new world record by polishing off 50 franks in 12 minutes.”

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