The crowd began mulling at the foot at the stage. A nervous energy arose from the floor as if a rock band was due to emerge any moment. Through the microphone, a voice called out to the crowd, “Are you ready to watch fat guys eat wings?”
This was the scene at P.J. Whelihan’s in Downingtown, where seven contestants gorged themselves on wings in an attempt to secure the final open slot to compete against legends such as Takeru Kobayashi and El Wingador at Wing Bowl XX–which will unfold on February 3, 2012 at Wells Fargo Center of Philadelphia.
The announcer started calling out names of contestants. Quazy, whose real name is Kevin, was the first man called up. At six-foot, five inches tall, he’s a giant of a young man with a stubbly beard and backwards baseball cap. Last year, Quazy won the final slot after a tie-breaking match. He doesn’t dabble in other food eating contests. Quazy is strictly a wing specialist, and a man of few words. When asked what the secret is to winning the Wing-off, he simply replied, “not to throw up.”
Other contestants included Uncle Rico, The Shocker, Beefcake Cheesecake, Tiger Wings and Things, and Oink Oink. The final man to take the stage, after quite some delay, was Farmer Bob, who had secured his opportunity only twenty minutes earlier by eating 25 wings in a five-minute qualifier round.
The “So Co” girls tagged each contestant with flickering red Southern Comfort stickers before they climbed the stairs and looked out over the surging crowd. As the Whelihan waitresses streamed by in single file, each one holding three baskets of wings, the searing whiff of hot sauce singed our nostrils.
The judge, an aptly nicknamed young man known as Dough Boy, read the rules for the ten-minute contest, and then they were off. As the Rocky theme blasted in the loudspeakers, the contestants began devouring wings, each with their own unique strategy. Oink Oink chose to stand and rock back and forth, rotating each wing in his mouth to strip it clean. Farmer Bob ate quickly but politely on the one end. At one point, Tiger Wings and Things appeared to puke a little into his water glass. Dough Boy was the judge, overseeing each basket and poking his finger through the wings to determine if enough meat had been picked clean. If meat was left on the bone, the wing was not counted. Someone shouted, “Your chance for glory!” And then the ten minutes were up and the crowd fell silent as the contestants wiped their oily reddened cheeks clean and picked chicken out of their beards.
After Dough Boy consulted with the judges, it was determined that Quazy and Oink Oink had tied with 45 wings apiece! A two-minute competition ensued and Quazy was determined the victor.
After winning the run off round, Quazy headed right to the men’s room. As he emerged from the bathroom after cleaning himself up, a reporter asked, “You are going to the Wing Bowl. How does that feel?”
The giant smiled and replied, “Awesome!”
Catch the competition’s two minute finale below.