At an event where excess is celebrated, just one wing proved to be the difference between winner and loser.
The irony is delicious.
But lest one think this year’s Wing Bowl was stripped of its debauchery, consider the atmosphere at the Well's Fargo Center on Friday morning.
As the gluttonous competitors engaged in their eating frenzy, they were surrounded by scantily-clad ladies from Philadelphia’s finest gentlemen-oriented establishments. These ladies, the much-heralded “Wingettes,” were generously mopping the 27 finalists’ brows and eagerly handing them plate after plate of wings.
That hospitality was hardly the only asset these women — who were arguably saucier than the wings they were dishing out — exhibited.
In front of a predominantly male crowd of 20,000, all it took for the female attendees to bare some skin was a quick glance from a cameraman and some encouragement from the stands. The only part of a woman that may not have been on display was feminism — but that’s an ideological debate for a different day.
In fact, adult-film legend Ron Jeremy may have missed the point when he told WIP 610 commentators, “This stadium probably couldn’t sell out a Guns ‘N’ Roses concert, but it sells out for these guys eating chicken.”
Somehow, this group seemed to be more attracted to human breasts than their ornithological equivalents.
Despite the joyously raucous behavior at Philadelphia’s equivalent of a bacchanal, the eating competition itself was, in fact, quite the showdown.
From the get-go, the battle for Wing Bowl 19 was clearly between five-time champion Bill “El Wingador” Simmons and defending title-holder Jonathan “Super” Squibb.
It was the stuff that cliche sports movies are made of: the young upstart taking on the weary veteran.
That storyline shone through in their eating styles. Squibb was calm and methodical, rotating the wings in his mouth as he bobbed his head up and down. The New Jersey native swayed from side to side, dancing to a soundtrack that nobody else could hear. “I just get in the rhythm,” he said later.
Not so for Simmons, who seemed to down a wing in one bite and in a decidedly less relaxed fashion. He seemingly vacuumed the meat into his mouth.
Even though Simmons’ entourage included renowned competitive eater Takeru Kobayashi — who downed a cheesesteak (“wit,” if you were wondering) in 24 seconds during the break between rounds — experience was not enough.
Squibb sealed the deal with just one wing. His record-setting total of 255 wings earned him $20,000 and a 2011 Dodge Ram in addition to the prestige of winning three straight titles.
Other competitors — lesser ones — may have felt queasy or nauseous after achieving the same gluttonous feat. But Squibb?
“Total euphoria,” he said.
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