This is how Takeru Kobayashi defeated the Heat’s Bam Adebayo in burger-eating contest

Bam Adebayo knew it was over before the competition even started.

The Miami Heat’s 21-year-old center, along with NBA alumnus Walter Bond and former Miami Hurricane Russell Maryland, took on Takeru Kobayashi in a competitive burger-eating challenge at BurgerFi’s new Pinecrest location Wednesday afternoon. As expected, Kobayashi won in a landslide 20-9.

“Average eater,” Adebayo said, pointing to himself, “world-championship eater ... You kind of lose from the jump. It’s like a high school player playing against LeBron.”

The event, aptly named Chow Down for Charity, allowed BurgerFi to capitalize on the intersection of National Cheeseburger Day and Hunger Action Month. For every cheeseburger eaten, the chain would donate up to $5,000 to Feeding South Florida. BurgerFi, which plans to donate $20,000 to the charity, also auctioned off 15 Japanese inspired burgers that featured Wagyu beef patties, Umami bacon shiitake jam and a pan-fried ramen noodle bun.

Having been partnered with Feeding South Florida for the last three years, BurgerFi’s top brass wanted to up the ante. A food-eating contest on September 18 presented them just the opportunity.

“We said how can we take our want to do the Feeding South Florida charity and this food-eating contest on National Cheeseburger Day and combine it into one,” said Charlie Guzzetta, BurgerFi’s marketing manager. “And that’s how the whole thing got together.”

Getting Kobayashi was the next step. They contacted his manager who was thrilled with the idea. It was an added bonus that Kobayashi had never been to Miami.

“He was all excited about it,” Guzzetta said. “He came down two days ago and in that time, he’s gone to five BurgerFi restaurants. He’s eaten every single item on the BurgerFi menu.”

Despite taking his time to enjoy Miami, Kobayashi still took this contest very seriously.

Before the competition began, the difference in preparation was apparent. While Adebayo sat off to the side, taking pictures with fans and enjoying a red velvet milkshake (which he highly recommends), Kobayashi used his fingers to test the temperature of the water. Why? Because only warm water expands the stomach.

This preparation proved essential once the actual eating began. Kobayashi was 11 burgers in before his opposition even had one. His form was perfect: ripping the burger in half, dipping both parts in the water and shoving them down his throat before moving on to another.

“Everybody saw something amazing today,” said Bond.

It didn’t take long for the crowd to focus on the six-time Nathan’s Hot Dog champion. Adebayo began recording on Instagram Live with one hand as he held a half-eaten burger in the other. By the end, even Bond and Maryland had slowed to a snail’s pace as they took in the machine that was Kobayashi.

“I wanted to watch him because I wanted to see the technique,” Adebayo, who finished only one burger, said. “I learned something new today: he splits it in half.”

With ‘We Are the Champions’ blaring from the speakers, it was all smiles as Kobayashi was awarded a green, BurgerFi championship belt. There were rumblings that he might’ve set an unofficial world-record, having devoured nearly 21 cheeseburgers in five minutes. Still, people couldn’t help but cringe as he lifted up his shirt to reveal a small food baby bump.

On the other side, Team BurgerFi had already turned their attention to next year. Maryland shook his head violently when thinking about the possibility of dipping his burgers in the water. Bond talked about fasting for whole year in preparation.

Adebayo, however, knew his time was best served elsewhere. When asked if he’ll do any additional training for next year, Adebayo’s responded accordingly:


C. Isaiah Smalls II is a reporter covering breaking and trending news for the Miami Herald. Previously, he worked for ESPN’s The Undefeated as part of their inaugural class of Rhoden Fellows. He is a graduate of both Columbia University and Morehouse College.