Last year's champ is back for more

NO SURPRISE HERE, but Joey Chestnut has finally been announced as a contestant for 610 WIP's Wing Bowl 15, Feb. 2 at the Wachovia Center. Chestnut, of San Jose, Calif., is the current Wing Bowl champ and set a record last year of 173 wings devoured. The 23-year-old earned the prestigious title of Rookie of the Year from the International Federation of Competitive Eating.

The man is determined to retain his crown. Eaters beware!

Wingador now restaurateur

Five-time Wing Bowl champion Bill "El Wingador" Simmons may have retired from the sport of competitive eating, but he'll always embrace chicken.

His new restaurant, the Original El Wingador's To-Go (4th & Girard), is doing great business.

Wingador says he's given up his job as a truck driver and now works full-time at the restaurant or distributing his special BBQ wing sauce to area stores.

Of course, he'll be on hand for the annual spectacle at Wing Bowl 15, where he continues to serve as a motivational force and a hero of sorts to contestants.

Hank the Tank ready for battle

Wing Bowl 15 will be the ninth for Hank "The Tank" Goldey.

Goldey, 29, of Southwest Philly, works as a longshoreman when he's not busy stuffing his face.

He's a little upset that the professional eaters from the IFOCE are involved. Wing Bowl's not about the pros, Hank says, "it's about drinking, girls, and having a good time." The Tank confessed to us that he's the one who stole El Wingador's throne in February 2005 during Wing Bowl 13.

The throne later turned up at the base of the Art Museum steps. Among his other stunts, the class act says he once threw water in the face of Eric Gregg, longtime Wing Bowl commish. He warns he's got "quite an entrance planned," which is a tribute to Wing Bowls past, the prankster told us with a devilish laugh.

Gov's Groundhog reminder

Big Daddy Graham says the gag he's planning for Wing Bowl 15 was inspired by Gov. Rendell.

At a holiday party at the home of morning show and Wing Bowl ringleader Angelo Cataldi and his wife Gail, Rendell reminded Graham that Wing Bowl 15 fell on Groundhog Day. So Big Daddy decided to dress up as a groundhog.

"I'm gonna be a groundhog and if I see this beautiful stripper from Club Risque, there's gonna be six more weeks of spring, but if I see [WIP host] Paul Jolovitz, there's gonna be six more weeks of winter," Graham says.

DiRoma devours at Dempster's

Joe "Boneyard Joe" DiRoma says he's got just as good a shot as anybody to win Wing Bowl 15.

The 42-year-old from West Grove, Chester County, recently qualified for the contest by eating 63 wings in a "Wing Off" at Dempster's Pub in Mount Holly, where he bested 28 other amateur eaters.

DiRoma, a district manager for Panera Bread, says it's been "a lifelong dream of mine to be involved" in the Wing Bowl, which he's attended several times. *

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