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.
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.
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/
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.
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).
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.
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.
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. 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.
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:
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. View Wing Bowl 15 Photos Here on PhillySportsline.com
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:
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.
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.
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 AngeloCataldi.com and PIXGargano.com and PhillySportsline.com
|I||29 January 1993||Wyndham Franklin Plaza Hotel||Carmen "The Beast From the East" Cordero||100|
|II||28 January 1994||The Main Event||Kevin "Heavy Keavy" O'Donnell||127|
|III||27 January 1995||Club Egypt||Kevin "Heavy Keavy" O'Donnell||133|
|IV||26 January 1996||Electric Factory||Glen "Fluffmaster" Garrison||155|
|V||24 January 1997||Electric Factory||Eric "Gentleman E" Biehl||120|
|VI||23 January 1998||Spectrum||Mark "Big Rig" Vogeding||164|
|VII||29 January 1999||Spectrum||Bill "El Wingador" Simmons||113|
|VIII||28 January 2000||First Union Center||"Tollman Joe" Paul||90|
|IX||26 January 2001||First Union Center||Bill "El Wingador" Simmons||137|
|X||1 February 2002||First Union Center||Bill "El Wingador" Simmons||135|
|XI||24 January 2003||First Union Center||Bill "El Wingador" Simmons||154|
|XII||30 January 2004||Wachovia Center||Sonya "The Black Widow" Thomas||167||Ed "Cookie" Jarvis||153|
|XIII||4 February 2005||Wachovia Center||Bill "El Wingador" Simmons||162||Sonya "The Black Widow" Thomas||161|
|XIV||3 February 2006||Wachovia Center||Joey Chestnut||173||Rich "The Locust" LeFevre||151|
|XV||2 February 2007||Wachovia Center||Joey Chestnut||182||Patrick Bertoletti||170|
|XVI||1 February 2008||Wachovia Center||Joey Chestnut||241||Patrick Bertoletti||227|
Wing Bowl 'very Philadelphia': New contestants take flight as the Grand Prix of gluttony draws some movie interest.
Feb 05, 2006; Byline: Michael Klein Feb. 5--Men gnawing on chicken wings. Women prancing about in thongs and bursting out of their shirts....