"It is possible to die from eating. But I think to be professional means you don't die." (Takeru Kobayashi)

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

My post-Nathan's encounter with Kobayashi, the eater bus, and his maniacal fans (working title)

NATHANS - Me at NathansYeah, so Heather and I went to catch the Nathan's hot dog eating contest on Coney Island this weekend. All things considered, it was a great time. It was really cool to see all of the best eaters competing on the same stage, including the elusive and uber-legendary Takeru Kobayashi. Aside from his sprint across the stage and dramatic hoisting into the sky on the platform pictured in my previous post, we didn't really get to see much of him from our vantage point.

That is, of course, until about 20 minutes after the contest. We had finally abandon our spots against the metal partitions and had pushed through the still dense and giddy crowd when we saw him again. My first NATHANS - Koby Signingindication that something was happening was the rush of people pushing past me as I approached Badlands Booker for a photo op. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw Kobayashi's Nathan's yellow hair as he was being escorted to the eater's bus about 100 feet away. At this point he was only six feet away from me and I was sort of being swept up in the crowd and the emotion. Not one to miss an opportunity, I grabbed my camera to get a few more pics of the champ. (Actually, Heather handed it to me after snapping a few of her own, but she knew I'd be much more "paparazzi-like" in my photographic pursuit.)

The fanatacism of the crowd for this guy is hard to explain. It was like a rock star had just exited the back door of a venue and was making a mad dash for the tour bus. There he was, flanked by his interpreter and an NYPD officer, being hustled to the bus and the crowd, now hundreds in mass and overwhelmingly Asian, was screaming his name and pushing inward on him with no barracades left to separate this seemingly ordinary Japanese man from his ravenous fans.

So I followed (perhaps I myself am a "ravenous fan") and got these photos. The view from right side of the bus NATHANS - Koby and Sonya on Buswas limited, so I went around to the driver's side where I was able to press my camera against the dark tinted windows and snap some great shots that came out surprisingly well (it looks almost as if I were inside the bus). It wasn't until I uploaded these pictures 12 hours later that I realized Sonya Thomas was also onboard (see at right), relaxing after doing her 37 hot dogs and no doubt giggling at the crazy scene unfolding outside.

Koby sat on the bus steps and did a television interview (someone said ESPN, but I'm not sure) and was then escorted back to the stage area. Below is the return trip as he adjusts his Nathan's headband.

NATHANS - Koby Leaving the BusI know I promised a post about why I'm such a competitive eating geek, but that'll happen on Friday. It'll sort of be a continuation of this post. Basically an epiphany I had on the drive home while reflecting on the weird, awe
struck sense I felt while being swept up in the Koby crowd and snapping these photos.

A full set of my Nathan's photos can be seen


Blogger Chappy said...

this is a great site. great stuff, great pics, and rectum wrecker. eesh.

Keep on eating.

9:52 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

holy fuck! awesome post from Nathan's! thanks for your comment on my livejournal today. (http://www.livejournal.com/~greglie/)

guess i'll see you at the wing bowl :)

7:39 PM


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