Wing Bowl

Wing Bowl is an annual eating contest founded in 1993 by Philadelphia talk-radio hosts Al Morganti and Angelo Cataldi as a celebration of gluttony. The contest was first broadcast on WIP (AM).

About 150 people attended Wing Bowl I (held in a hotel) in 1993 to see a competition between two contestants. The event pits competitive eaters in a chicken wing eating contest. The Wing Bowl is traditionally held on the Friday preceding the Super Bowl. The event, which began as a radio promotion, has grown to encompass television, the Internet, and a contest for women who are termed "the Wingettes."

It is currently held at Philadelphia's Wachovia Center, where it is still broadcast live on WIP. There are currently no television deals to broadcast the event live; however, a replay is usually shown on WPSG, Comcast SportsNet, or one of the other local stations within the following week. The Wing Bowl now draws crowds of 20,000 or more.

Background

Wing Bowl was the brainchild of WIP radio host Al Morganti, who came up with the idea when it became apparent the Philadelphia Eagles were not going to make the Super Bowl anytime soon. It is also suggested that Morganti was fed up with the Buffalo Bills going to the Super Bowl and not winning. The first Wing Bowl was held in the lobby of the Wyndham [http://www.starwoodhotels.com/sheraton/property/overview/index.html?propertyID=1776| Franklin Plaza] Hotel in Center City. Carmen Codero walked away with the inaugural title, receiving a hibachi as his prize.

Since then, media coverage has grown to the point where every one of the major Philadelphia television stations has covered the event. The ABC, CBS and Fox affiliates all aired live reports from the event during their morning news. Features on the event have appeared in "The Philadelphia Inquirer" and "Daily News" as well as a host of newspapers in the surrounding counties. The event has been featured on ESPN and the syndicated television shows "Real TV" and "The Montel Williams Show". Segments on Wing Bowl have appeared on TV newscasts in cities throughout the country. Several Wing Bowl contestants, including "El Wingador," competed in Fox's "Glutton Bowl" in the spring of 2002. The 2007 Wing Bowl was carried on Comcast Cable's On Demand channel.

Former Philadelphia Mayor and current Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell attended Wing Bowls II, III, IV and VI, where he presented the winner with a "Liberty Bell" trophy. Other celebrities who have appeared include retired heavyweight boxer Randall "Tex" Cobb, former 76ers President Pat Croce, former Phillies manager Larry Bowa, U.S. Senator Arlen Specter, and others. Major-league umpire Eric Gregg served as the "Commissioner" of Wing Bowl from its second year until his death from a stroke on June 5, 2006. On December 4, 2006, it was announced that Pat Croce will be the new commissioner.

Qualifications for Wing Bowl

(As per Wing Bowl Commissioner Pat Croce)Entry into Wing Bowl can be gained in two ways, the first of which is successfully performing an "eating stunt" on air during "The Morning Show" at the 610 WIP studios in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania, with Al Morganti as judge. Stunts have included eating 20 cups of cooked oatmeal, eating 60 ounces of creamed spinach with 60 ounces of hot sauce, and eating five Big Macs. The stunt must be completed within a time limit negotiated between the contestant and Morganti. Morganti, known to be a tough judge, has disallowed stunts that involved what he considers "cheating", such as dipping bread into a beverage to make it easier to swallow, or breaking up a food item into constituent parts for easier chewing (such as separating hot dogs from their buns). He is also tough on contestants who suggest a stunt involving liquid consumption; "The Morning Show" hosts prefer eating stunts over drinking stunts. If a person offers to perform a drinking stunt, it must be compelling to the hosts, such as Wing Bowl XIV champion Joey Chestnut's offer to drink a gallon of milk. The hosts deemed it not difficult enough, but, fortunately for Chestnut, former champion Bill "El Wingador" Simmons was present and declared the stunt to have a high level of difficulty, upon which the hosts accepted his offer, with a five-minute time limit to complete the challenge.

The other way to gain entry to Wing Bowl is to win a "Wing V" (a spoof on the Big 5 Philadelphia area universities) wing-off in which five contestants eat as many wings in two minutes, with the winner gaining automatic entry into the Wing Bowl. "Wing V" wing-offs conducted this year catered mainly to the college crowd, especially those attending schools in Philadelphia. All eating stunts performed for entry can be viewed as real video on http://www.philly.com. http://www.PhillySportsLine.com offers the most extensive Wing Bowl photo gallery at http://www.phillysportsline.com/photo/wingbowl/wing-bowl-15/

Criticism

Wing Bowl has been subject to the same criticisms that have been levied against competitive eating in general, specifically that it promotes unhealthy and potentially dangerous activity.Fact|date=March 2008 The criticisms are particularly acute for Wing Bowl for two reasons. The first is one of place: critics question the appropriateness of staging such an event in Philadelphia, statistically one of the fattest cities in the USA. The second issue is one of scale: the success of Wing Bowl has put a number of politicians and public figures in the awkward position of having to support an activity that from a policy perspective they would see as reprehensible (for example, many of the politicos who lend populist words of encouragement for Wing Bowl are also associated with campaigns to promote general fitness or the quality of school lunches).Fact|date=March 2008

Past Wing Bowls

2002

In 2002, Philadelphia native Bill "El Wingador" Simmons became the first competitor to win the Bowl three times; Kevin "Heavy Keavy" O'Donnell had won Wing Bowl II and Wing Bowl III in '94 and '95.

2003

Bill Simmons became the first man to win the Bowl four times, and the first to win it three times in a row (again beating O'Donnell's previous '94-'95 record).

2004

In 2004, the Wing Bowl was sanctioned by the International Federation of Competitive Eating (IFOCE). Angelo Cataldi, in an effort to boost the level of competition, brought in professional eaters from outside Philadelphia, including 99-pound Korean-American Sonya "The Black Widow" Thomas from Virginia and Long Island realtor Ed "Cookie" Jarvis. That year, Thomas packed away 167 wings to defeat Jarvis and returning-champ Simmons (who finished with 151) to become the first woman to win the event, winning a new car for her victory. Both competitors and fans did not want to see an "outsider" win the Wing Bowl. When it became apparent that Thomas could take the title away from a Philadelphian, Simmons gained the support of his fans and long-time competitors. One of the most dramatic moments saw Simmons's long-time rival Damaging Doug show his support for Simmons and keeping the Wing Bowl title in Philadelphia.

2005

In 2005, Simmons regained the Wing Bowl title by defeating Thomas by a single chicken wing. This Wing Bowl coincided with the Philadelphia Eagles Super Bowl run.

Prior to the event, many fans were denied admission to the Wachovia Center despite waiting in line throughout the night. Admission to Wing Bowl had been on a first-come, first-served, general-admission basis. At 5am, when many fans were told to go home, some minor rioting started and police were called in. Following this, WIP and Wing Bowl organizers instituted ticketing for Wing Bowl to prevent another incident like this.

2006

In the 2006 Wing Bowl, only three IFOCE eaters competed, with Joey Chestnut of San Jose, California winning the event. Prior to the event, a banner was raised to the rafters of the Wachovia Center in honor of Simmons's Wing Bowl accomplishments. [http://www.phillysportsline.com/photo/wingbowl/wingbowl14/ Photos of the Virgin Wing Bowl can be viewed here on PhillySportsline.com]

Wing Bowl XIV, touted as "The Virgin Wing Bowl," since no past Wing Bowl winners were allowed to participate, featured the induction of "El Wingador" as the first member of the new Wing Bowl Hall of Fame. He was elected by a poll conducted on the 610 WIP website. Wing Bowl XIV was also the first Wing Bowl in which tickets had to be purchased for entry. This decision was mainly due to past problems where nearly 50,000 people had lined up outside of the Wachovia Center for entry to a venue that can hold only 20,000 people. Sales proceeds went to charity.

2007

Wing Bowl 15 is known as "Philadelphia Against The World". Tickets sold out on the first day of sales. Wing Bowl 15 was presented by Philadelphia Park Casino. Pat Croce was this year's Wing Bowl Commissioner. Pat took the helm after the tragic loss of WIP's dear friend Eric Gregg. [ [http://www.610wip.com/pages/134695.php?contentType=4&contentId=248823 WIP - Philadelphia's Sports Radio - * ] ]

The wings in this bowl were smaller and much warmer than past Wing Bowls, leading the commentators to predict that the competitors could get past the 200-wing mark. At the end of the first round, a record 112 wings were eaten by Gentleman Jerry (for Philadelphia), giving him a 21-wing lead, the first double digit lead at halftime in Wing Bowl history.

The five finalists for the final two minutes were:
# 182 wings - Joey Chestnut (World)
# 170 wings - Patrick Bertoletti (World)
# 169 wings - Sonja Thomas (World)
# 167 wings - Gentleman Jerry (Philly)
# 138 wings - US Male (Philly).

After going into the second round in ninth place, Chestnut came back and took the lead in round two by twelve wings. He also won the crown for the second year in a row, finishing with a record 182 wings. Finishing in fourth place, Gentleman Jerry was the top Philadelphia finisher with 167 wings.

After the announcement of champion, Hall of Famer "El Wingador" announced his out-of-retirement comeback to take his crown back from Chestnut in next year's Wing Bowl. [http://www.phillysportsline.com/photo/wingbowl/wing-bowl-15/ View Wing Bowl 15 Photos Here on PhillySportsline.com]

2008

Going into Wing Bowl 16 WIP Host, Angelo Cataldi, billed it as the greatest Wing Bowl ever. With El Wingador coming out of retirement to square off against the number one eater in the world, Joey Chestnut. Wing Bowl 16 also featured a change in chicken wing providers, which contributed to the shattering of the elusive 200 wing mark.

After the 1st round, Joey Chestnut set a first round record with 124 wings, breaking Gentleman Jerry's record from last year of 112 wings, winning him a brand new Harley Davidson motorcycle. During the announcement of the second round qualifiers, there was an error in the wing counting, which prompted Pat Croce, to change the number of second round participants from 10 to 12.

Standings after the first round were:

# Joey Chestnut, 124 wings.
# Brad the Lunatic, 112.
# El Wingador, 107.
# Patrick Bertoletti, 104.
# Gentleman Jerry, 83.
# U.S. Male, 81.
# Wing Kong, 80.
# Unknown Eater, 79.
# Mike "The Caveman" Casciano and Gabe Cocktail, 74 (tie).
# Dr. Digestion, 71.
# Dave the Dumpster, 70.

At the start of the second round, it looked as if El Wingador was making up ground on Joey Chestnut, finishing his first plate before the incumbent champion. But age and fatigue had set in and El Wingador was unable to put significant pressure on both Patrick Bertoletti and Joey Chestnut. The dark horse from the "kiddie table", Brad the Lunatic, looked to pull an upset, but was disqualifed by Pat Croce for violating the rule "You Heave You Leave." After many years of speculation, the 200 Wing mark was finally broken during this round by both Patrick Bertoletti and Joey Chestnut.

Final Five:

# Joey Chestnut,
# Patrick Bertoletti, 211 wings
# El Wingador, 189
# U.S. Male and Gentleman Jerry, 133 (tie).

In the final 2 minute sprint for the crown, Joey Chestnut, was poised to cruise to the Wing Bowl crown, but kept on the pressure, devouring 241 wings at the final whistle. Despite a valiant effort and a personal best, El Wingador, could not take down the eating juggernaut, finishing with 205 wings. He has finally broken the elusive 200 wing mark he has coveted since entering in his first competition.

Final Standings:

# Winner: Joey Chestnut, 241
# Runner-up: Patrick Bertoletti, 227
# Third: El Wingador, 205
# Fourth: U.S. Male, 143
# Fifth: Gentleman Jerry, 139

Next years Wing Bowl is could bring us a new champion, as El Wingador had stated, "This year was a one shot deal" and Joey Chestnut's competitive eating tour de force may have come to an end. Patrick Bertoletti is considered to be the odd's on favorite for Wing Bowl 17.View Wing Bowl 16 Photos on [http://www.angelocataldi.com/photos.html/ AngeloCataldi.com] and [http://pixgargano.com/wingbowl16.aspx/ PIXGargano.com] and [http://www.phillysportsline.com/photo/wingbowl/16/ PhillySportsline.com]

Wing Bowl Champions:

Wing Bowl Hall-of-Fame

* Bill "El Wingador" Simmons (2006)
* Eric Gregg (2007)

Miscellaneous

*"El Wingador" would practice to strengthen his jaw muscles by eating lots of frozen Tootsie Rolls in the weeks before the Wing Bowl.
*Seats located in sections 114 to 124 (lower bowl) and 214 to 224 (upper bowl) offer the best viewing as that half of the arena is where the stage, seating all 25 contestants and all the WIP Morning Show hosts, is set up.
*The event usually starts around 6:15 to 6:30AM, shortly after "The Morning Show" on WIP starts.
*The event usually ends around 9:30 to 10:00AM, which coincides with the end time of "The Morning Show".
*The event is known for an excessive number of intoxicated fans in attendance, an increasing number of women exposing themselves (above the waist and below), and an excessive amount of profanity from fans. The hosts also promote younger women to sign up as "Wingettes" who dress up in lingerie or bikinis while escorting the Wing Bowl contestants to the stage.
*Attendees planning to sit in the lower bowl are encouraged to bring a rain jacket or a poncho, as fans have thrown objects at the contestants as they made their procession around the rink. Objects have included unopened cans of beer, half-full, opened cans of beer, cups of soda or beer purchased from the concessions, nachos & cheese, pretzels with mustard and other food.
*Many of the contestants in recent years were sponsored by local strip clubs and those clubs also add to the debauchery in the stands.

ee also

* [http://www.610wip.com/ WIP's Official Homepage]
* [http://www.wingbowltickets.com/ Wing Bowl Ticket Source and Information]
* [http://www.philly.com/philly/sports/wingbowl/ Philly.com Coverage of Wing Bowl]

References


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