Pros banned from Wing Bowl 17, contest will be all local eaters

Alejandro A. Alvarez/Daily News

Former House Speaker Tip O'Neill once said all politics is local. And now all competitive eating is local too. 610 WIP's Angelo Cataldi announced this morning that Wing Bowl 17, which will be held Jan. 30, will once again be open only to Philly-area amateur eaters. Cataldi said this morning that they kicked out the pros and were "going back to the roots of Wing Bowl."

The brainchild of co-host Al Morganti and Cataldi, the annual celebration of gluttony and strippers began in 1993 with less than a hundred spectators in the lobby of the Wyndham Franklin Plaza Hotel, now the Sheraton City Center. Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Dec. 15 for the Wachovia Center event.

Reigning champion Joey Chestnut, who beat his previous record by eating 241 wings at this year's contest, had won three years in a row. He and many contestants in recent years, were professional eaters who appear regularly in events sanctioned by the International Federation of Competitive Eating, Major League Eating and other professional contests.

Chestnut revealed to us before Wing Bowl 16 that win or lose it would be his last Wing Bowl, but the departure of all pros means we are likely to have a brand new winner in 2009 as five-time champ Bill "El Wingador" Simmons is ineligible. Simmons came out of retirement for Wing Bowl 16, but then said he would not return either.