It’s controversial.

It’s controversial.

Topaz ? 3 years ago

Major League Eating, or MLE, “helps sponsors to develop, publicize and execute world-class eating events in all variety of food disciplines.” There are upwards of 80 official MLE-sanctioned events each year, including the Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest in #ConeyIsland, #Brooklyn, which first took place in 1916 and is now broadcast live on ESPN.

But MLE has been criticized for bringing too much exclusivity in the name of corporate sponsorships. Perhaps the best-known MLE-related controversy involves Japanese hot-dog vet Kobayashi, who received a visa to work in the U.S. that is only granted to athletes with “extraordinary ability.” Kobayashi’s fall from Nathan’s fame, which culminated in his arrest at the 2010 contest, came out of his refusal to sign an exclusivity contract with MLE that would have forbade him from participating in eating contests put on by rival organizers. (He called the contract “unfairly restrictive.”) Some supporters say it’s a plot to favor the U.S.-born Chestnut, who is now number one in the world according to MLE rankings.

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