Eating From Afar

Liveblogging, Sort of…

It’s now 5:37 in the morning. I just woke up, exactly seven minutes ago – half an hour late. Wing Bowl 15 started half an hour ago… 20,000 people have bought tickets to go to Wachovia Stadium in Philadelphia for a three-hour long spectacle, all based around watching a bunch of people eat chicken wings for half an hour in hopes of winning a car.

I’m tuned in to one of the Philadelphia radio stations, WIP610. They’re already introducing the contestants (they just introduced The Blind Beast, a blind contestant). I’m hoping they haven’t already introduced my blog-buddy Steakbellie, part of the Philly contingent (see photo). The theme this year is “Philly vs. the World.” They’re putting Philadelphia’s best competitive eaters against five professional eaters chosen by the IFOCE – International Federation of Competitive Eaters. Steakbellie’s ranked 38th in the world, and is given 7 to 1 odds to win this thing.Oddly enough, they start this thing at midnight for some reason. Steakbellie has rented a school bus for his friends; they’re all gonna pile into the bus, drink a bunch of beer, then head to the Wachovia Center to watch the Wingettes, drink more beer, and watch people eat.

Ooh, they’re introducing Wing Kong now – another Philly guy, I guess. His entourage made a fake boxing ring – they’re carrying it around the arena, throwing beads at the crowd. The announcers are having a ball with this – I guess they keep falling over with the boxing ring…

STEAKBELLIE’S COMING INTO THE STADIUM! I’m so excited! “This is our first really big challenger,” said the announcer. “He’s not a fat guy, but he’s an eater!” The lady’s saying, “He has a man dressed up as cupid, men in kilts, there are bagpipers playing, a ten-foot-high can of beer labelled ‘Whoop Ass’…” The male announcer – “He has a man skipping in front of him dressed as cupid, that ain’t gonna help.” I think they just interviewed the cupid; wish they’d talk to Steakbellie instead. Gah, I wish I could see it! (Maybe radio is better. Hard to tell.)

Well, they’re introducing someone else now. Steakbellie had a huge beer can for his float, this next guy has a big float with a giant toilet, with the guy sitting on it reading a newspaper. I hope he has his pants on. It’s 5:54 a.m.

I’ve been all wrapped up in this for weeks now. I’ve read Steakbellie’s blog for quite some time, and his enthusiasm for this event is so infectious… Well, you just gotta go read his blog. He’s also got a web site where you can see the short film he and his friend shot, as well as a video of the “stunt” he did to qualify for Wing Bowl. (Each Philly contestant had to do a “stunt,” live on the radio. Steakbellie ate a huge hoagie, bag of chips and a cup of lemonade in three and a half minutes.) Here’s a photo of Mr. Bellie.

Commercial’s over – they’re back to the introductions. This guy, The Indian Butcher, ate like a pound of cow tongues for his stunt. The announcers are making a big deal out of his entourage throwing beads at women in the crowd, and how much cow tongues stink.

Next contestant: 290 pounder, The Irish Soul Assassin, odds something like 250 to 1. I guess he’s the Philadelphia Eagles’ line coach. The announcers are dissing him.

It’s now 6:09 a.m. They’re doing a tribute to one of the Wing Bowl commissioners, El Wingador.

As much fun as this is, I’ve gotta go take a shower… This seems to be a good time; they’re gonna be doing introductions for quite a while, it seems. This sounds like so much fun – I wish I were there. Oh well… I’ll be back shortly, happily scrubbed clean and ready to face the day. I think I’ll make myself a plate of wings for breakfast.

6:45 a.m. – I’m back, happily bathed. Sounds like they’re still introducing people… Pennsylvania eater Humble Bob just came into the stadium, with a float of fellow competitor Joey Chestnut on a spit, turning over a fake fire…

Two pounds of meatballs and two pounds of sausage in 12 minutes was 25 to 1 Hank the Tank’s qualifying stunt. He’s being introduced now.

I love the names! Steakbellie always wears a kilt when he performs in honor of his Scottish heritage. (I think I saw another photo of Steakbellie somewhere… Lemme see if I can find it here… Ah, there it is.)

Oh boy, they’re introducing IFOCE’s pro eaters now… #4 ranked 105 pound Sonia the Black Widow, #5 ranked Rich LaFevre, ChipBurger Simpson, #3 ranked eater in the world Patrick Bertoletti, reigning champ and wing eating record holder Joey Chestnut…

It’s 6:53 now. They say all 25 competitors are all lined up and ready to go… So of course there’s a commercial.

Oh drat. I lost my connection. After getting up so early, I hope I don’t miss the main event! Oh wait, it’s back.

7:01 a.m. – they just finished the National Anthem. I woke Dagmar up. She’s gotta hear this… The officials are in place, the eaters are in place… Now they’re talking about whether the contestants can wear headphones or not…

The first round started! Wheee! I can picture all these guys lined up, shoving chicken wings in their gaping maws… The all-time record is 173 wings in half an hour. The crowd just boo’d – they showed Bertoletti and the Black Widow on the big screen. The Locust just got an ovation… The announcers are wondering if Bertoletti and the Black Widow can keep up their pace for half an hour. “Has Bertoletti ever done a thirty-minute competition?”

Damaging Doug and Joey Chestnut just finished their first plate! It’s about two minutes into the competition… Heavy Kevy was just mentioned.

Doctor Slob is on his second plate, as is Obi Wing… Gentleman Jerry “is cleaning his wings beautifully, but he’s going slowly.” They have to eat the wings “clean” or they don’t count. “The Indian Butcher is just a disgrace,” they say, leaving too much gunk on his wings.

7:09 a.m. – They’re talking about the Locust being a “distance eater.” “He’s 63 years old?” asked the announcer. Beast of the Northeast is on his third plate. Commercial. Oh, the tension! I wonder how Steakbellie’s holding up… I haven’t heard his name mentioned yet – he must be eating in the second round. I bet he’s nervous!

They’re back… Halfway through the first round, almost. The Black Widow is leading the group now, with Joey Chestnut in second. Bertoletti is falling behind… They’re predicting Sonia Black Widow will make it to 200 wings. They just gave the two minute warning to the halfway point in the first round. I WISH I COULD SEE THIS!

Oh, I think I understand now – after the first half of the round, the top ten eaters go on to the second half! So the eaters eat for fifteen minutes, then stop. OH! Obi Wing had a “reversal of fortune” – the wings are coming back up… Ach! I guess he kept it down… Gulp.

Halftime. I’m gonna go get some wings. Five little chicky wings for breakfast in honor of the hundreds, nay, thousands of wings eaten at the competition.

The commercial is over. They’re still at halftime… The halftime tabulations:

#10: 73 wings, Dr. Winglove
#9: 75 wings, Joey Chestnut
#8: 77 wings, Curly von Burley
#7: 78 wings, Bulldog
#6: 81 wings, Damaging Doug
#5: 83 wings, Patrick Bertoletti
#4: 84 wings, The Black Widow
#3: 89 wings, U.S. Male
#2: 91 wings, The Beast from the Northeast
#1: 112 wings, Gentleman Jerry

No Steakbellie… I actually teared up. Shucks. Well, I guess I’ll listen to the second half anyway…

They’re talking about how the commissioner disallowed 20 of the Black Widow’s wings, saying she didn’t finish them enough to count. I guess she’s been complaining pretty bad about it. They’re saying that jaw strength is an issue now. “You gotta eat a lot of Tootsie-Rolls to be competitive.”

I’ve lost my enthusiasm… Bertoletti is coming up from behind. Sounds like the amateurs are falling behind now. There’s still five minutes to go. The IFOCE guy is yelling at the pro eaters, telling them to pick up the pace. The Beast of the Northeast is having troubles… I guess he’s a bit green. Dr. Winglove cramped up – he’s on the ground. U.S. Male is still going, as is Gentleman Jerry. Philly vs. the World. One minute to go… Bertoletti is going… Dr. Winglove is “about to blow.” Five seconds… Done! They may disqualify Dr. Winglove for a “reversal of fortune.” If anything comes back up, the contestant is out. Yep, they eliminated him…

Now they’re gonna have a commercial and tabulate the results. They’re talking about a “two minute sprint,” sounds like the top few eaters still have two minutes to go!

My five little breakfast wings are kicking my ulcer in the side.

Okay, the top five eaters get to go on to the “two minute sprint.” Here they are:

#5: 130 wings, U.S. Male
#4: 156 wings, The Black Widow
#3: 157 wings, Patrick Bertoletti
#2: 158 wings, Gentleman Jerry
#1: 166 wings, Joey Chestnut

Wow – Joey Chestnut was 37 wings behind Gentleman Jerry – he made up 45 wings in one round! I don’t think I could eat 45 wings in one day…

The two-minute sprint has started. I’m feeling kinda ill myself after hearing this all morning… This is like seeing a car accident – I don’t want to look, but I can’t help myself.

8:08 a.m. Fifteen seconds to go. 172 is the previous record (held by Joey Chestnut). Wing Bowl 15 is over, and I’m late for work. Another commercial, then the final results. Sounds like Joey Chestnut is gonna win… To be honest, I was kinda pulling for Gentleman Jerry there at the end (no disrespect, Steakbellie).

Okey, the results… (I can’t believe I listened to this all morning.)

#5: 138 wings, U.S. male
#4: 167 wings, Gentleman Jerry (won a car! best Philly eater)
#3: 169 wings, The Black Widow
#2: 170 wings, Patrick Bertoletti
#1: 182 wings (new record), pro Joey Chestnut

The crowd isn’t happy. The pros won… I have to go to work now!

If you’re reading this on Facebook, you can see the original blog at, click on “Blog.”

5 thoughts on “Eating From Afar

  1. katrocket

    Wow – that was some really awesome color commentary on WingBowl! You really ought to consider a career in alternative sports journalism. I’m really happy that you took the time to write this post, for those of us who couldn’t catch the whole thing. I think Steakbellie will post video footage on his blog in the coming weeks…

  2. Birdy

    I’m with Kat – your account here was the best online for WingBowl 15 – better than the WIP site itself! As I was reading I was having the same reaction you were – I wish I could see it! Steakbellie better Flickr this.

  3. ArtieLange

    So I went to google to see what was being written about Wing Bowl and who the hell comes up #1? Yup it was you. He;; I could have saved myself a lot a sleep and just read your blog. I was there. Steakbellie did great. The judging was ridiculous (my opinion) and some of the world’s best didn’t make it to round 2–ChipBurger Simpson, Rich Lefevre, Humble Bob, and Yes, Steakbellie.

    It was a great time and big props to Steakbellie for having me. It was so much fun.

  4. Chris

    Hey, thanks for saying nice things! It was a bit of a challenge to listen to the radio, blog, eat breakfast, blog, step on the cat, blog, get ready for work, blog…

    I wanna see pictures! Color photographs! Maybe even some of those new-fangled moving pictures I hear so much about…


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