Local pros feel slighted by all amateur Wing Bowl

Three-time champ Joey Chestnut, and all pro eaters, are barred from Wing Bowl 17.

Drexel Hill's Micah "Wing Kong" Collins is upset that he can't compete in Wing Bowl 17 (Jan. 30 at Wachovia Center) because he's a pro eater and this year's event is open only to amateurs. "I genuinely respect they want to bring it back to Philly, but there are a few local, terrific pro eaters," says Collins, referring to past Wing Bowl contestants Eric "Steakbellie" Livingston and "Humble" Bob Shoudt, whom he feels should have a chance to compete.

Collins will attend the event alongside first-timer Richie "Beefcake Cheesecake" Souder, whom he is training.

Wing Kong, a systems administrator by day, predicts that with all amateurs on the bill, the highest number of wings eaten this year "won't even be half" of California's three-time champ Joey Chestnut's record of 241 set last year. Collins is certain that several contestants will suffer reversals (that's what puking is called in competitive eating) and therefore will be disqualified, due to the strict "You heave, you leave," policy.

Meanwhile, the initial plan for Wing Bowl 17 was to hold the event at the Spectrum for one last time since the iconic venue will close this year, 610 WIP's Angelo Cataldi told us yesterday.

"That's really where the event took off a decade ago," he says. "We were going to lose a few thousand seats, but we would gain so much more in pure nostalgia." Going back to the neighborhoods and excluding pros was developed in conjunction with the Spectrum throwback plan.

"To our shock, we had totally outgrown the building," he said. "Many of the floats that have become so much a part of Wing Bowl would not fit in the Spectrum runways. Also disheartening, Cataldi says, is that there are no permanent video screens at the Spectrum. "Video is especially important in Wing Bowl to focus in on the attributes of our lovely Wingettes and to highlight that magical moment when a contestant grows ill."

For info on how to qualify for Wing Bowl as either a contestant or a Wingette, click here.