At 3:50 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 30, the Wells Fargo Center was already packed with tailgaters for the shitshow known as the 23rd annual Wing Bowl, an eating competition hosted by local sports radio.
1.The doors of the event opened at 5 a.m., and people were drinking well before then in the parking lot.
2.The guy drinking this stuff told us, "The best part of waking up is 151 in your cup."
3.It was like 4 a.m., so people were cooking scrambled eggs while drinking Natty Ice.
4.The kid in the hat was SO drunk he was just stumbling around all over the parking lot. He was drinking some sort of booze straight from a supermarket orange juice container. He couldn't even talk; I suspect he never made it inside the event.
5.A lot of people had been up all night drinking. These guys shouted, "Fuck the police!"
6.These guys had rented a U-Haul to use for tailgating. The older guy is the father of one of them and they have been coming to the Wing Bowl for 12 years.
7.The Wing Bowl is held at the arena where the Flyers play, and it was still set up with the plastic boards for hockey. It sold out in 9 minutes and was packed with about 20,000 fans.
8.The competitors were accompanied by "Wingettes" (strippers from several different clubs).
9.In addition to stripper escorts, each eater came out on a float with his or her own "entourage" of costumed friends. The man in the turban was part of someone's entourage.
10.The fans behind the plastic hockey panels were intensely excited. Or drunk. Probably both. Definitely both.
11.A beautiful welcome message from a fan to me. Thank you, sir.
12.This was "Animal Cannibal." We talked to him the night before at the weigh-in event at a bar. I asked him what he'd never eat, and he IMMEDIATELY yelled, "a dick!"
13."El Clownador" had an entourage that basically looked like a bunch of people escaped a mental asylum and tried to put on a play. I have no idea what this costume is or why he's with the clown.
16.This guy was in an adult diaper, throwing raw hot dogs into the crowd. This photo doesn't truly capture how disturbing this was.
17.This gent made clever use of one of the dogs.
19.Patrick "Deep Dish" Bertoletti, a veteran professional eater from Chicago, played up the out-of-town villain role. He had a Kim Jong-un impersonator on his float.
20.The fans responded in kind.
21.The Wingettes took their place on the stage with the contestants.
22.There's three levels of competition: collegiate, local, and national. This guy won the local competition (138 wings) and was third overall. Two national eaters beat him.
23.This is Molly Schuyler, last year's winner. She's this teeny tiny woman who blew away the competition by demolishing 363 wings. Basically, she's a goddess.
24.There were a lot of chicken costumes, which it took me embarrassingly long to get (chicken...wing...wing bowl...DUH).
25.The greatest jacket of all time.
26.There was a competition for best Wingette. The winner received $5,000 cash from a plastic surgery practice and a five-person hot tub from a local hot tub dealer.
27.The pig version of Chris Christie's sign kept popping up in the entourage/Wingette area. People in Philly REALLY hate Chris Christie.
28.Flashing is a big part of the Wing Bowl. The Miller Lite "Can Cam" spotlights women in the crowd on the Jumbotron to get them to flash their breasts. This guy was getting excited for it.
29.This woman WOULD NOT STOP FLASHING us. I saw her pierced nipples SO many times. IDK I've seen boobs. But there's really something weird about someone flashing 20,000 people. It's...weird.
30.This year's theme was Mardi Gras, so people were throwing her beads whenever she flashed. She started off with zero beads.
32.The whole thing is at an ungodly early hour, so people are SLEEPY.
33.There was a mechanical bull for the Wingettes, because WHY NOT.
35.As you can imagine, there were some security issues with the mostly shitfaced crowd. We saw this kid drinking in the parking lot, and he was so excited for the Wing Bowl. He was escorted out.
36.The crowd was about 95% male, but here you see a few women. It's almost certain they ended up on either the "Can Cam" or "Kiss Cam."
37.I was extremely impressed by how put together the Wingettes were at 5 a.m. We looked like something that had died and been buried in the pet cemetery and came back to life but all fucked up and evil.
38.This eater "Skin & Bones" had been extremely reserved when I talked to him at the weigh-in, but during his entrance he went wild, grabbing his crotch to immense cheers.
39.These guys kept flashing me and seemed to be having the time of their lives.
40.Local eaters got into the Wing Bowl by doing some sort of eating stunt. "Moe Train" here ate 2 chateaubriands in some incredibly short amount of time.
41.A hot new trend in exotic dancer wear was to do cool patterns with electrical tape. Very Pinterest.
42.The crowd awaits the wing demolishing.
43.A man dressed as a chicken was eating pizza while everyone else was eating chicken. Ironic?
44.These Wingettes had a sporty look.
45.A fan holds up a giant cutout of his face.
46.This woman had a sign quoting Marshawn Lynch. Her friend's sign had a hashtag for how to find pics of boobs (#WingBonaz).
47.Dude. You know we can see you looking.
48.Retired pro wrestler Mick Foley was a stunt contestant. He was disqualified for cheating by sticking wings in his fanny pack. This is apparently a stunt he does at various eating competitions. The fans loved it.
49.A fan had his own version of Foley's signature sock puppet (hard to explain, it's a wrestling thing).
50.Like any sporting event, it started with a national anthem. God bless the USA.
51.The competition has two rounds. College and local eaters only have to complete Round 1, but the winners can choose to go onto the final round if they choose (but they may lose everything).
52.Wingettes replenish the contestants with fresh wings and cheer on their assigned eater. It was actually really cute how much the stripper would cheer for her eater.
53.This is what hell looks like, FYI.
54."Tiger Wings and Things" had to loosen his belt a little between rounds.
55.A Wingette holds a plate of wings.
56."Gravy Brown" and Patrick "Deep Dish" Bertoletti are business partners in a food truck together in Chicago. They had matching silver lamé suits.
57.The blond Wingette, Kate, was crowned Wingette of the Year and won the $5,000 prize.
58.Whenever it looked like an eater was getting close to barfing, the Jumbotron would show footage of this guy explosively puking from the 2001 Wing Bowl. It was a great troll to try to induce more puking.
59.The finals were down to Molly and Patrick. Their Wingettes were amazingly supportive.
60.Molly was favored to win again this year, but she came in second place.
61.Patrick Bertoletti was the winner with 444 wings. I (Katie here) have had a little crush on him since he was in the Coney Island hot dog eating contest back in 2007 and I was way too starstruck to talk to him. He is ADORABLE, btw.
62.The winner gets a Super Bowl-esque ring provided by local jeweler Steven Singer (whom I know because the same jeweler provides prizes for the Howard Stern show).
63.444 wings. 444 WINGS. FOUR HUNDRED AND FOURTY-FOUR WINGS.
64.Wing and confetti aftermath:
65.If there could be only one image to sum up our experience at the Wing Bowl, it would be this photo taken afterward of a security guard and a stripper embracing outside the arena in the brisk January air. Thank you for an amazing experience, Philadelphia!