Wing Bowl, El Wingador defy pro-eating czar
It's a spitting match with hot sauce.
Wing Bowl is playing a game of chicken (wings) with the country's czar of eating contests.
WIP-AM, host of the annual event, has opened the doors once again to pros, but George Shea, the head of Major League Eating, appears to be trying to slam them shut.
Just this morning, though, local pro Bill "El Wingador" Simmons announced on-air he'll ignore the dispute and seek his sixth Wing Bowl crown on Feb. 4.
Japan's Takeru Kobayashi, holder of several world eating records, reportedly will attend but only to watch, despite having no current agreements with MLE.
Shea emailed to simply say, "I can't comment on anything related to this right now."
"George Shea can kiss my Boston a--," said morning-show cohost Al Morganti. "We're giving away real prizes, not Razor scooters and 15 cents."
Philly's total prize payout promises to be worth more than $100,000, with $20,000 and an expensive ring going to the overall winner, and a new Dodge Ram pickup truck for the top local eater. A Harley Davidson motorcycle and resort trips also will be awarded.
For the last dozen MLE events, the biggest total purse was $7,500, while two awarded only "bragging rights" and "eternal glory," according to the organization's website, www.ifoce.com.
Chestnut got $10,000 for winning perhaps the country's best-known eating competition, the Nathan's Famous Fourth of July Hot Dog-Eating Contest at Coney Island. That was sanctioned by the MLE.
Of Shea, Morganti said, "his problem is that we have a bigger event than he ever hoped to have."
Since Morganti thought up Wing Bowl in the early '90s - so frustrated Eagles fans could have some fun on Super Bowl weekend - the contest has grown into a major spectacle, at times garnering national media attention.
Expect the Wells Fargo Center to be filled as 25 to 30 contestants parade in with floats and costumed entourages, including scantily clad Wingettes, as part of the hoopla building up to the half-hour chowdown.
Contestants qualify by doing on-air stunts of gustatory excess, such as a recent failed attempt by Sharkman to eat four Filet-O-Fish sandwiches with fries in three minutes.
The tickets - $10 each - go on sale through Comcasttix.com at 9 a.m. next Tuesday, with proceeds going to police and other charities.
Ticket sales were started about five years ago at the request of police who disliked dealing with thousands of extra fans angered over being turned away, said morning show producer Joe Waechter.
Simmons explained he knew he was fit to enter when he recently finished off two pizza steaks and then ate a whole pizza.
"I stood up and I said, 'Wow, I'm not even full!' " he told host Angelo Cataldi, who professed great excitement, but was soon moving on to other topics, such as whether guys like to watch guys barf.
For more on Wing Bowl, go to www.wingbowl19.com.
Contact staff writer Peter Mucha at 215-854-4342 or firstname.lastname@example.org.