TOKYO (AP) - The hot dog champ may not be able to chomp.
Takeru Kobayashi of Japan, the six-time champion of the annual Fourth of July hot-dog eating contest in New York, might be sidelined for next week's event because of an arthritic jaw.
Last year, the 165-pounder won his sixth straight Yellow Mustard Belt in Coney Island in Brooklyn by devouring a then-world record 53¾ frankfurters in 12 minutes.
That mark was smashed this month by Joey Chestnut of San Jose, Calif., who gobbled up 59½ hot dogs and buns in Tempe, Ariz., in a qualifying event for Coney Island. Chestnut nearly beat Kobayashi in 2006, downing 52 hot dogs and buns.
Kobayashi said on his Web site that a specialist diagnosed him with arthritis of the jaw. He's getting treatment at a hospital and from a chiropractor.
"I can't open my jaws more than just a little bit," he wrote.