There are few places that make a person’s jaw literally drop and even fewer that can stuff your agape mouth with buffalo wings, beer and cash.
However, Philadelphia’s 22nd annual Wing Bowl left me entertained, exhilarated and vicariously full of poultry.
This year’s Wing Bowl featured a number of Philadelphia sports figures, like 76ers head coach Brett Brown, Phillies world champion Matt Stairs and most importantly, competitor and Philadelphia Eagles center Jason Kelce.
My adventure at the Wing Bowl began around 2:30 a.m. on Friday, when I awoke to the ear-shattering yelps of my alarm clock. I dragged myself out of bed, met up with a few friends and make the pilgrimage to this chicken wing Mecca.
Upon arrival, thousands of people were already out and about, yelling, screaming and, of course, drinking. There were battle cries that ranged from “E-A-G-L-E-S, EAGLES!” to “Show us your tits!” With the Eagles’ season over, fans still want competition.
Even Penn had a presence in the festivities. Red and Blue football safety Sebastian Jaskowski entered with a fire in his eyes and an entourage the size of his appetite to try and take the crown against other representatives from the rest of the Big 5.
His name for the competition? The “Polish Punisher.”
“We got about 15 guys here, we are ready to see him take home the car,” a member of his entourage exclaimed. “Look at his competition, he’s got no one out here!”
In dramatic fashion, the “Punisher” did in fact take home a brand new Chrysler 200 by downing 78 wings in 14 minutes, a moment he described as “the best thing that has ever happened to me.”
There’s an aura around this event that’s filled with decadence and raw emotion. As women were put on the “can cam” and showed their breasts for an almost full Wells Fargo Center, the crowd cheered and jeered in perfect unison.
But, it also begs the question: How do places like this exist in an age of feminism and equality?
As women parade themselves around in essentially nothing and flash thousands of strangers, it’s hard to imagine that there wasn’t a protest at every corner of the Wells Fargo Center. Coming from a southern town, this kind of “radio-sports-sex” culture feels alive and well. But after spending time here at Penn, I’m surprised to not have seen a reaction from the antithetical community.
However, as the aforementioned audience may be reading this and asking themselves the same question, it’s important to note that a female won the entire competition. Not only did she win a brand-new car, she also walked out with $22,000 in cash.
Molly Schuyler, a 5-foot-7 125-pound contestant from Omaha, Neb., crushed her all-male competitive field and shattered an existing world record by eating 363 wings in 30 minutes — besting the old mark of 337.
While it draws a rowdy crowd, the Wing Bowl holds a special place in these Philadelphian hearts.
College senior Noah Goldstein says, “Wing Bowl is absolutely sensational.” He and his brother have been attending the event for years, braving the cold and waking up in the early hours to marvel at this gauntlet of eating, gluttony and fun.
You may not agree with what Wing Bowl is or what it does, but it’s certainly a quintessential part of Philadelphia.