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In 2001, an unknown Japanese eater named Takeru Kobayashi transformed the sport of competitive eating. The revolution took place on July 4th at the Nathan’s hot dog eating contest. Up until that day, the highest total at the competition had been 25 hot dogs in 12 minutes. With his unconventional style and relentless pace, Kobayashi doubled that total – reaching 50 hot dogs. No one saw it coming. Since 2001, the sport of competitive eating has changed dramatically. Kobayashi’s cutting-edge training strategies and eating style influenced a whole new generation of gorgers who are now breaking records that were unfathomable in the sport’s early days. In this episode, we’ll talk with Gersh Kuntzman, a veteran competitive eating reporter, about Kobayashi’s influence, why the Japanese star faded out of the spotlight, and how far the new generation of eaters can take the sport.

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