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Chestnut Guns for Kobayashi

Joey Chestnut's remarkable performance in Las Vegas, 50 hot dogs and buns in 12 minutes, sets up one of the greatest match-ups in eating history. On July 4, 2006, two of the greatest eaters alive (and two of the greatest athletes alive) will face off in the world's premier eating contest.

Takeru Kobayashi has held sway over the Nathan's Famous hot dog eating contest for five years running. However, Chestnut's recent performances have revealed a serious challenge for the Japanese phenom.

last year, many hoped that Sonya Thomas could approach Kobayashi's level. however, she consumed 15 fewer hot dogs than he did when he set the world record of 53.5. Chestnut has now eaten 50 HDBs -- placing him alongside Kobayashi in a statistical dead heat.

Chestnut is too humble to say it, but there is no doubt that he is gunning for the great Kobayashi. The only question now is whether Kobayashi can up his game to meet the challenge.