Philadelphia’s most gluttonous tradition carried on again this year as WIP Sports Talk Radio held Wing Bowl 24 – a raucous, star-studded, promo-filled chicken wing eating competition inside the Wells Fargo Center.
Five-time NBA champion Dennis Rodman joined former U.S. Representative and Philadelphia Eagles’ star Jon Runyan, Hockey Hall of Famer Bernie Parent, current Eagles’ star Connor Barwin, The Roots’ Kamal Gray, and media personality Ross Tucker at 6 a.m. for the R-rated speed-eating frenzy.
Al Morganti, co-host of “The Morning Show,” conceived the event in 1993, leading to two men gorging in a hotel lobby the Friday before the Super Bowl. The spectacle has grown to an estimated 20,000 spectators cheering on more than 25 sauce-splattered competitors. “It’s a day off and it’s right before the Super Bowl, so it’s kind of an unofficial party,” Morganti said. “We don’t get to have a Super Bowl party in Philly, so we throw one.”
Fans sitting in the lower levels received free T-shirts from sponsors while Wingettes – the competitors’ personal cheerleaders – tossed logoed products of Mardi Gras-styled beads, rally towels and can coolers to the crowd. Competitors donned white promotional T-shirts and drank from sponsor-emblazoned water bottles (to help keep the hundreds of chicken wings down, of which some eaters did not).
Pageantry was dialed up to the max as competitors wore costumes (including three dressed as Donald Trump) and circled the stage on elaborate floats followed by their entourages.
Molly Schuyler, standing at 5’ 7” and 120 pounds, took home the championship, eating 429 wings over the two 12-minute rounds and two-minute final sprint to the finish. She had finished in second place last year with 440 wings and won in 2014 by eating 363 wings. As Wing Bowl queen, Schuyler received a grand prize of $10,000, a Harley Davidson motorcycle and a championship ring from Steven Singer Jewelers.