Wing King Crowned in Clearwater

Joey Chestnut ate 144 wings in 10 minutes to win the belt at the World Wing Eating Championship Thursday night at the original Hooters, besting 10 others, including Sonya "The Black Widow" Thomas.

Maybe third time is a charm, at least when it comes to chicken wings, competitive eating and Joey Chestnut.

Chestnut ate 144 wings in 10 minutes finally beating Sonya “The Black Widow” Thomas at the Thursday at none other than the .

Thomas, who weighs 100 pounds, had beaten Chestnut twice in other chicken wing eating endeavours. She finished third eating 131 wings. Adrian "The Rabbit" Morgan from Baton Rouge, LA, took second place, finishing 140 wings.

Seat At The Table

Participants earned a place at the championship table by competitively eating at 12 previous events. The contest was sanctioned by Major League Eating, which regulates and supervises competitive eating events.

George Shea, president of the International Federation of Competitive Eating, served as hype man, giving fans some background on contestants as they made their way to the table beset with silver bowls filled with 20 pounds of chicken wings.

Shea wore a straw skimmer hat, khakis and a blue blazer — a stark contrast to the contestants in event T-Shirts stained in wing sauce and, in some cases, brightly colored bathing suits.

Competitors slurped water between bites of chicken wings. Beads of sweat formed on their faces as they split, ate and threw wings down at breakneck speed.

Aasif Mondvi, from the "Daily Show" and the Tampa area, was also part of the competition, although it was more for stunt and show than his real major league eating ability. He finished the competition and about 15 wings.

“It’s just that I felt they could use a little seasoning,” Mondvi said. “They were a little bland.”

At one point midway Mondvi looked extremely sick. He did embrace the spirit of the event.

“I was proud to be able to compete in this. I love Hooters and I love Tampa Bay,” he said.

Wing King Draws Crowd

Tamara Biniewski moved to Largo 11 years ago from Buffalo, home of the chicken wing. She wore an orange foam chicken-wing shaped hat and held a sign proud of her hometown. 

“Buffalo, N.Y. In the house” it read. Her husband Mark said they have been excited since hearing about the contest and that No. 1 ranked competitor Chestnut would be part of the action.

Tamara danced around and at the end of the competition drew the attention of Shea and Mondvi.

“Do we need (the writing) on both sides of the sign,” Mondvi said.

Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers Coach Jon Gruden, who said he started out as one of the first oyster shuckers in the Hillsborough Avenue Hooters location in 1984, helped to introduce the competitors. 

“You want to shake them you don’t want to bruise them,” Gruden said, sharing his oyster shucking technique with the crowd that packed the parking lot.

Gruden then said that he has seen some big eaters being around nearly 400-pound football players.

“What we’re about to see,” Gruden said. “(You) thought you’d never seen before.”

Chestnut is Champ

Shea billed Chestnut as the undisputed champion of the world before the contest began. 

After 10 minutes of chowing chicken wings, Chestnut proved it. He downed 144 of them and said he would stay and have a beer after with fans.

Chestnut said he normally gets his wings Daytona or Three Mile Island style, typically with blue cheese but sometimes ranch.

Chestnut rose to competitive eating fame when he beat Kobayashi in the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating contest in 2007. 

Wings or hot dogs?

He said they are different kinds of contests but was confident in his technique for wing eating.

And instead of a beefy bill for all those wings, Chestnut won $7,500 for his top finish.


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