Meet the World Wing Bowl Champions

Who will take Kobayashi's throne in the World Wing Bowl?
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Nicole, last year’s winging Wingette with her new Harley Davidson.

Nicole, last year’s winging Wingette with her new Harley Davidson.

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Luke McKinney  writes about games, drink, science, and everything else...
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by Luke McKinney

February brings us a clash of titans, trained athletes putting their bodies through hours of grueling torture to do professionally what most of us only do for a bit of fun: eating chicken wings! The 94WIP Wing Bowl is an extinction level event for fowl and sanitation workers. Two decades of gluttonous history have grown the event from ten hungry people in a hotel room to a yearly championship with dozens of Wingettes, thousands of wings, and legions of fans.

The event is proof that we’ve evolved to use chicken wings better than the chickens did.

graph Meet the World Wing Bowl ChampionsThat’s not a steady increase in athletic ability, that’s an exponential catastrophe. If you want to eat any wings again, ever, you’d better do it before February 1st. At which point it’ll be Gallus gallus gone as the species goes extinct. We’re looking at the five last world wing champions to prepare for the carnage.

Sonya “The Black Widow” Thomas

Sonya Thomas won the wingpocalypse back in 2004, and is now #4 in the International Federation of Competitive Eaters. Which is apparently a thing that exists, or at least a very good cover story for keeping track of where these people are so that buffet restaurants can pretend to be closed.

She won a pink belt at Nathan's, but there was no sexism involved; it was pink for Pepto-Bismol. (Seriously!)

She won a pink belt at Nathan’s, but no sexism involved; it was pink for Pepto-Bismol. (Seriously!)

She’s known as the Black Widow for constantly out-devouring men more than quadruple her size. A tiny lady expanding her stomach and consuming unsuspecting men isn’t an eating competition maneuver, that’s the plot of Species. But unlike Natasha Henstridge, Sonya still has a powerful career now.

Bill “El Wingador” Simmons

El Wingador was the grand old champion of the Wing Bowl. He won his first wing bowl in 1999, then took four of the next six bowls, because taking many more bowls of things than any regular human is the entire point of the contest.

There is nothing not weird about this picture.

There is nothing not weird about this picture.

He went from the stage to the Wing Bowl Hall of Fame in 2006, the year of the “Virgin Bowl” which forbade past champions from competing–a move pretty clearly designed to give someone else a chance. He returned to the field in 2011, missing out on a resurgent victory by only one wing, and his final match in 2012 took an impressive third place. Impressive because he was up against two machines who did more damage to wings than World War II’s anti-aircraft batteries.

Joey Chestnut

Joey Chestnut took a triforce of Wing Bowls with an unbroken championship from 2006 to 2008. It seems that, like many people who made it in a Virgin event, he suddenly decided he wanted to keep doing it. He’s now the #1 professional competitive eater in the entire world. Which explains why he won the Wing Bowl right up until 2009, when they decided that paid professionals weren’t allowed to do that anymore.

The dangers of turning your hobby into your job.

Beware turning your hobby into your job. (Photo: Michael Nagle/Stringer/Getty Images News/Getty)

Joey has more eating records than a gastroenterologist’s filing cabinet. If there’s anything he doesn’t hold a title in eating, it’s because no-one has created a championship for that yet. He’s consumed staggering quantities of everything from deep fried asparagus spears to shrimp wontons, and this is a case where “staggering” could be upgraded to “fatal” depending on capacity.

Jonathan “Super” Squibb

squibb Meet the World Wing Bowl Champions

Stop before you eat your fist!

Super Squibb took the crown in the all-amateur Wing Bowl 17 of 2009. And kept winning it for three years, proving that “amateur” plus “actually doing what you want to do” equals professional. Which is an inspiring sentiment, but actually became an issue when the 2010 bowl held a wing tribunal to determine if he was too professional to be allowed in. His right as returning champion kept him in the running, and he proceeded to eat almost a hundred wings more than the second place competitor.

He claims that was in an attempt to beat another eating record, but we like to think he ate what was basically a corpse’s weight of extra wings while staring directly at those who had tried to prevent him from entering. “I can dispose of evidence,” we imagine his eyes saying. “Cross me again and I’ll put you in the sewer, and it won’t be through a manhole cover.”

Wheels work better than wings when they're this sweet.

Wheels work better than wings when they’re this sweet.

In 2012 he converted 271 wings into the second place prize of a Chevy Camaro. That’s the opposite of most people, who lose the ability to move around when they finish almost two gross wings–where gross is both an imperial count and an adjective for the effects the human digestive system.

Takeru Kobayashi

2012 saw the title taken with a ludicrous 337 wings by Takeru Kobayashi, or as he’s known in chicken language, “The Death of Worlds.” (Pronounced “buk-buk-buk-buk-SQUARRK!”) Takeru is final proof that even eating competitions aren’t an excuse for being out of shape. He looks like he’d be hard pushed to swallow a deep breath, but the Guinness Book of Records technically classifies him as a black hole. He’s eaten more than your entire family line back as far as protozoa, and has made more radical changes to his interior biology.

Kobayashi keeping an eye on two enthusiastic supporters

Kobayashi keeping an eye on two enthusiastic supporters.

He’s won so many eating competitions that the TV show “Man vs Wild” finally brought in a ringer to defeat him. And by “ringer” we mean ”giant ravenous half-ton Kodiak bear.” When most humans lose an eating contest to a bear it’s because they were the eaten, not because they only ate 60% as many hot dogs.

The Field For 2013

Super Squibb is the only past champion in the field this year. That would make him the clear favorite, except that would make the competition boring, which is why the Wing Bowl are importing professional eaters specifically to fight him in a separate top-tier battle. This will leave a field of amateurs to devour it out in one competition, while Squibb challenges the limits of human biology on a highlighted stage.

The event isn’t televised, which is probably for the best. A radio description is like a physics textbook chapter on atomic bombs: reducing the terrifying spectacle to safe numbers which don’t really capture the horror of being anywhere near the disaster. But if you’re interested in strong stomachs, and have one, you can watch the highlights at Watchwingbowl.cbslocal.com


bonusround2 Meet the World Wing Bowl Champions
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