Takeru ‘Tsunami’ said he can only open his mouth to make a gap the size of a fingertip after being diagnosed with jaw arthritis.
In an entry on his blog entitled Occupational Hazard, Kobayashi said: “My jaw refused to fight any more.”
The injury occurred only a week after the slender 29-year-old started training to win his sixth straight title at the annual July 4 Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating contest on New York’s Coney Island.
“I feel ashamed that I couldn’t notice the alarm bells set off by my own body,” he said. “But with the goal to win another title with a new record, I couldn’t stop my training so close to the competition.
“I was continuing my training and bearing with the pain but finally I destroyed my jaw.”
Kobayashi, who has become a niche celebrity in Japan and the United States, had already halted his competitive eating activities for several months due to mourning his mother’s death earlier this year.
But he said he still wanted to go to the competition in New York.