Dan Gross: Will amateurs eat less and heave more at WB XVII?

Posted: January 07, 2009

DREXEL HILL'S Micah "Wing Kong" Collins is upset that he can't compete in Wing Bowl 17 (Jan. 30 at Wachovia Center) because he's a pro eater and this year's event is open only to amateurs.

"I genuinely respect they want to bring it back to Philly, but there are a few local, terrific pro eaters," says Collins, referring to past Wing Bowl contestants Eric "Steakbellie" Livingston and "Humble" Bob Shoudt, whom he feels should have a chance to compete.

Collins will attend the event alongside first-timer Richie "Beefcake Cheesecake" Souder, whom he is training.

Wing Kong, a systems administrator by day, predicts that with all amateurs on the bill, the highest number of wings eaten this year "won't even be half" of California's three-time champ Joey Chestnut's record of 241 set last year. Collins is certain that several contestants will suffer reversals (that's what puking is called in competitive eating) and therefore will be disqualified, due to the strict "You heave, you leave," policy.

WB XVII planned for Spectrum

The initial plan for Wing Bowl 17 was to hold the event at the Spectrum for one last time since the iconic venue will close this year, 610 WIP's Angelo Cataldi told us yesterday.

"That's really where the event took off a decade ago," he says. "We were going to lose a few thousand seats, but we would gain so much more in pure nostalgia." Going back to the neighborhoods and excluding pros was developed in conjunction with the Spectrum throwback plan.

"To our shock, we had totally outgrown the building," he said. "Many of the floats that have become so much a part of Wing Bowl would not fit in the Spectrum runways."

Also disheartening, Cataldi says, is that there are no permanent video screens at the Spectrum. "Video is especially important in Wing Bowl to focus in on the attributes of our lovely Wingettes and to highlight that magical moment when a contestant grows ill."

Speaking of qualifying . . .

It's not too late to try out for Wing Bowl. WIP's Hugh Douglas and Marc Farzetta will host a series of Wing-offs in which the winners earn a spot.

The first is at 8 tonight at Paddy Whack's (2nd & South), and there's another at noon Saturday at Slack's Hoagie Shack (2499 Aramingo). Others: 7 p.m. next Wednesday at P.J. Whelihan's (425 Hurffville–Cross Keys) in Sewell, N.J.; at 8 p.m. Jan. 15 at Barnaby's (5501 Pennell) in Media; 8 p.m. Jan. 20 at McStew's Irish Sports Pub (5316 New Falls) in Levittown, and finally at 8 p.m. Jan. 22 at the Trappe Tavern (416 Main) in Trappe, Montgomery County.

You may also call the WIP morning show at 215-592-0610 or 856-963-0610, Monday through Friday from 5:30 to 10 a.m. to propose an eating stunt to qualify.

Wingettes are also being sought and may audition at the Wing-offs, or by calling in as well. *

Visit PhillyGossip.com for Dan's latest stories. Have a tip? Call 215-854-5963, or e-mail grossd@phillynews.com. For recent columns, visit go.philly.com/dangross.

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