kobayashi not competing in fourth of july hot dog eating contest

With July 4 coming up, you know what that means... Nathan's Famous Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest! However, it looks like six-time winner Takeru Kobayashi will not be competing this year: Kobayashi, Frankfurter-Eating Machine, Exits Hot Dog Contest.

It's too bad -- everybody always looks forward to seeing "that Japanese dude" eat all those hot dogs. Kobayashi, perhaps the most recognizable figure in the world of competitive eating, is currently is ranked No. 3 in the world by Major League Eating. It apparently came down to contract dispute:
Pro eaters sign contracts agreeing that they’ll participate in only MLE-sanctioned events; these contracts don’t guarantee pay for eaters, who instead earn money from league-approved endorsements and prize earnings. Richard Shea, the organization’s president, issued a statement Monday indicating that negotiations with the 160-pound pro eater had reached an impasse, but offered no other details. Reached in the afternoon, MLE chairman George Shea (and brother of Richard) declined to elaborate.
It confounds me that 1) there is an organization called Major League Eating, and 2) it has contracts with professional eaters. Some suggest the once-unbeatable Kobayashi is making a move towards retiring from competitive eating. I don't blame him -- this is not a sport that welcomes old age.

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