He came. He saw. He ate 337 wings.
Takeru Kobayashi, the world’s greatest eating champion, made a bold entrance this morning at SportsRadio WIP’s Wing Bowl 20. Led into the arena by giant dancing dragons and colorfully-clad Mummers, the boyish Japanese foodie struck a theatrical pose as Rocky in a boxing ring. WIP Host Angelo Catando compared Kobayashi to another legend, saying, “this is like a boxing match with Muhammad Ali!” As Kobayashi’s float looped around the floor of the Wells Fargo Center, the hometown crowd booed.
Kobayashi faced twenty-five other challengers, including such hometown favorites as defending champion Super Squibb and five-time champ El Wingador. Each of the contestants paraded around the floor with their entourage before taking to the stage. The crowd-pleasing spectacles included Oink Oink’s float – which had two bikini-clad women mud wrestling in a ring. One entourage held up signs reading “Fire Andy Reid” and another performed a mock beheading of the despised Eagles head coach. Fans cheered as they paraded around the stadium with the styrofoam head on a stick. Contestant Stevil Kanevil dazzled the crowd by setting his hand on fire. Chilita, one of today’s two female contestants, was carried in like Cleopatra by four men.
But on the stage, it was all Kobayashi. He showed dazzling technique and took a commanding lead early in the competition. The champ appears to slide the wing in his mouth, snap the bones and scrape the meat off with one swoop as he pulls the expended wing.
As the competition heated up, the overhead screen cut between shots of scantily clad women in the stands and archived footage of previous Wing Bowl contestants projectile vomiting in slow motion.
Kobayashi only fumbled a few times (watch him in action below). At one point, he belched up hot sauce but was able to re-swallow. Wing Bowl’s rules state “You heave, you leave.” A few moments later, the crowd gasped as Kobayashi appeared to have a wing caught in his throat. His eyes widened and he raised his head to the heavens, managing to wiggle the trapped chicken meat down his esophagus. The master simply smiled.
Kobayashi’s preparedness paid off with the record of 337 wings downed. Jim Fris of P.J. Whelihan’s, which is the official supplier of wings for the WIP Wing Bowl, said Kobayashi had been eating 200 wings a day in preparation for the event, and escalated his training to 300 wings a day in the past week.
Sitting next to Kobayashi was defending Wing Bowl champion Super Squibb. Super Squibb had made a dramatic appearance in the parade dressed in blue and red tights as Superman. He didn’t smile or wave at the crowd. He ate a personal best of 271 wings on the day. Super Squibb was awarded an excellent prize for the top “local” winner – a Chevrolet Camaro. El Wingador finished third with 251 wings eaten. El Chilita ate a respectable 238 wings.
For his efforts, Kobayashi won a check for $20,000 and the coveted Wing Bowl Ring. As Angelo Cataldi started interviewing Kobayashi through a translator, the Philadelphia crowd let out another series of boos, and the new reigning champion just smiled.