New record set at Wing Bowl eating extravaganza

Fri Feb 3, 2012 2:39pm EST
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By David Warner

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - More than 17,000 mostly beer-fueled spectators packed a Philadelphia indoor arena on Friday for the city's annual early morning eating extravaganza in which competitors vie to eat the most chicken wings.

Japanese champion Takeru Kobayashi, weighing just 127 pound (xx kilos) defeated his much larger opponents in the 20th annual Wing Bowl and walked away with a $20,000 prize after devouring a record-breaking 337 chicken wings during the 30-minute contest.

He easily smashed the previous record of 255 wings set by Jonathan "Super Squibb" Squibb, who had won the celebration of gluttony the previous three years, and defeated local favorite Bill "El Wingador" Simmons, a five-times champion who weighs 330 pounds.

For Gary Gladwell, 53, of Bucks County in Pennsylvania, the important event for competitive eaters was part of his birthday celebration.

"This is my first time here. I can take it off my bucket list now," he said, adding "It's definitely an experience."

The Wing Bowl is held at the Wells Fargo Center each Super Bowl weekend by WIP, a sports-talk radio station, which came up with the idea almost two decades ago as a consolation prize for fans of the Philadelphia Eagles when they fail, as they have this year, to advance to the Super Bowl.

Gladwell and his brother John, 49, of Lawrenceville, New Jersey paid $10 per seat to the extravaganza which began with a parade of small floats and scantily clad women, known as "Wingettes," each touting the eating prowess of the 26 professional eaters.

"We can't get a championship here, so we might as well have fun and I have the day off," said Pennsylvania resident Bill Cheatham.   Continued...

<p>Competitive eater Takeru Kobayashi from Japan eats chicken wings on his way to winning "Wingbowl 20", the annual chicken wing eating contest in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, February 3, 2012. REUTERS/Tim Shaffer</p>