February 06, 2006

I've Never Seen a Man Eat So Many Chicken Wings

Friday morning I got to experience one of Philly's most popular cultural events: the 14th annual Wing Bowl. The annual wing-eating contest, sponsored by WIP, has become a local insitution, for its twin celebrations of gluttony and debauchery. It's also held at 6 in the morning on the Friday before the Super Bowl, meaning much of the crowd had been drinking in the parking lot for the entire night. I was there covering the event for my day-job paper, and here are a few highlights:

- Professional eater Joey Chestnut came away with the victory, setting a new Wing Bowl record by eating 173 wings (or, 100 more wings than Barry Bonds hit home runs in 2001). The biggest fan favorite, however, was 61-year-old Rich "The Locust" Lefevre, who was accompanied by his same-age wife, also a skinny, professional competitive eater. The Locust seemed to be greatly enjoying himself, especially since the two Wingettes on either side of him had breasts that weighed more than he did.

- Indeed, this year's Wing Bowl may have set another new record: the most silicone ever collected in one room at once. Not only were there the Wingettes, but each contender had his own entourage of additional scantily-clad women, especially since several of them were sponsored by local strip clubs. Then there were the women in the crowd flashing throughout the day, and the scoreboard kept cutting away from them at the last minute. Becca (along as my official photographer) at one point pointed at one of the Wingettes and said she thought maybe her breasts were fake. "Yea," I said, "and that one, that one, and that one." Some of those girls made Mariah Carey look downright natural by comparison.

- All the WIP personalites were there live, and I also got to meet five-time former champion El Wingador, whose real name (oddly enough) is Bill Simmons. Seemed like a nice guy to me, though I didn't get to ask him if he knows the other Bill Simmons.

- One of the contenders, known as "Dr. Slob," was an old friend of Becca's sister, so I talked to him before and after. He was able to eat 113 wings, which would have placed him fourth, but was disqualified shortly after the bell under the "you heave, you leave" rule. He still smelled like vomit when I interviewed him later.

All in all, a fun event. And much better-executed by the competitors than the Super Bowl was.

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