The Surprising Contestant Kobayashi Once Lost An Eating Contest To

Some people are world-beaters. But Takeru Kobayashi is a world-eater. As of 2019, the digestive magician had 15 world records to his name, per the Associated Press. Those accolades included such surreal feats as eating 57 cow brains – which tipped the scales at 17.7 pounds altogether – in just 15 minutes. It was the ultimate triumph of mind over gray matter. (It might have also been a win for dark matter, specifically the bottomless black hole masquerading as Kobayashi's mouth.)

Kobayashi is arguably best known for his ability to wolf down hot dogs at what seems to be the speed of light. To put it frankly, in a world of Oscar Mayer wieners, he's been an Oscar Mayer winner. Of course, his particular brand of hot dog fame is Nathan's Famous, which lists him in its Hot Dog Eating Contest Hall of Fame. In 2001, he gobbled up the previous world record, 25 hot dogs in 12 minutes, by obliterating 50 in the same time span. He would win six consecutive contests.

But no matter how big of a roll you're on – which in this case, is technically a bun – it won't last forever. So when Joey Chestnut dethroned the king of hot dog chomping, it was probably inevitable. But one of Kobayashi's losses stands out not because it happened but due to who, or rather what, he lost to.

The hot dog king gets his buns kicked by a bear

In 2003 (via IMDb), Kobayashi joined the show Man vs. Beast to partake in a hot dog eating "contest." For those who've never seen it, Man vs. Beast was a game show where people athletically competed against animals that were naturally faster, stronger, or hungrier. It was like an Olympics of absurdity and hubris where viewers could witness a 180-pound orangutan making a monkey out of a 363-pound champion sumo wrestler during a tug of war (via Vocativ) or see an Olympic sprinter eating a zebra's dust before going on to win a gold medal against humans in Athens the following year (via Time). 

If you had to pick an animal that could rival Kobayashi in hot dog devouring, you might go with the Hungry, Hungry Hippo – perhaps the only beast in existence specifically designed for competitive eating. But Kobayashi tried to out-eat an 8-foot tall, 1,089-pound Kodiak bear called "Alaskan Cruncher" who was capable of digesting 60-plus pounds of food (roughly one half of a Kobayashi) in a single day. There were no buns in this affair unless you count Kobayashi's, which got royally kicked.

While usually the big fish in a small pond when competing with people, Kobayashi was little more than a helpless salmon that was about to get smoked by the colossal Kodiak. Alaskan Cruncher barely seemed interested at points and got distracted by its surroundings yet still casually conquered Kobayashi.