NEW YORK — Frankly speaking, it wasn't even close.
For a third straight year, rail-thin Takeru "Tsunami" Kobayashi out-gorged the competition Friday in the Nathan's Famous hot dog eating contest, downing 44 1/2 dogs and dominating adversaries three times his size.
Kobayashi twitched and twisted to finish his franks at the rate of one every 16 seconds in a 12-minute display of gastronomic supremacy at the annual Fourth of July extravaganza.
Once again, the American competitive eaters were left to fight for second place as a Japanese champion was crowned for the sixth time in seven years. Runner-up Ed "Cookie" Jarvis of Nesconset, N.Y., 6-foot-6 and 420 pounds, trailed the champion by 14 dogs.
Celebrity contestant William "The Refrigerator" Perry, the 410-pound former NFL star, dropped out after just five minutes and only four hot dogs.
The 145-pound Kobayashi of Nagano, Japan, employed his trademark "Solomon method" -- snapping the dogs in half before swallowing them -- to destroy the 19 other contestants.
He once again raised the mustard-yellow championship belt above his head in victory, flashing thumbs up to more than 3,000 fans outside the original Nathan's in Coney Island.
But the 5-foot-7 Kobayashi, who sports a 30-inch waist, was disappointed that he failed to break his own record of 50 1/2 dogs. Kobayashi banged the table holding the hot dogs, and put his hands to his head in dismay.
"I feel sad I didn't break the record," he said through an interpreter. "I came here to set the record."