PHILADELPHIA - Takeru Kobayashi, often called the greatest competitive eater of all time, set a new record Friday at Wing Bowl 20, the annual chicken wing-eating contest in this city.
In his first year of competition, Kobayashi downed 337 wings, smashing the record set by his closest competitor, Jonathan "Super" Squibb, in 2011.
"I could probably eat another 100 wings or so," Kobayashi said after the event, through his interpreter. "Not really fast, I'd have to take my time. But if you brought me 100 more I could eat them."
Squibb, who had won the event the past three years, finished in second with 271 wings. Bill "El Wingador" Simmons, a five-time past champion, came in third place with 251 wings, and Chilita, a female competitor, finished with 238.
Kobayashi, a native of Nagano, Japan, is known for winning six Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest championships. At last year’s Wing Bowl, he scarfed a cheesesteak in a world-record 24 seconds.
Squibb, the 26-year-old eater from South Jersey, who weighed in at 247 pounds, set a personal record but could not keep up with the rapid pace set by Kobayashi in the early-going. The competition featured two 14-minute rounds of eating, followed by a two-minute sprint round.
"He was great," Squibb said of Kobayashi's effort. "If I was going to lose, I was going to lose fantastically."
Kobayashi won $20,000 and a championship ring. As the local winner, Squibb was awarded a Chevy Camaro automobile.
The spectacle was watched by thousands of spectators at the Wells Fargo Center. The event was closed to professional eaters in 2010 and 2011, but they were invited back this year.
Squibb and Kobayashi had been deemed the favorites at 2-1 odds to win the event.
Last year, Squibb edged Simmons by a single wing, 255-254, to take his third consecutive Wing Bowl crown and set a Wing Bowl record. Simmons has won the event five times, last wearing the crown in 2005.
With Kobayashi's total, a southern New Jersey car dealership will donate $3,370, or $10 a wing, to Philabundance, a local food bank.
A major part of the spectacle are the Wingettes, the name given to the bikini- and lingerie-wearing young women who make up each eater's contingent of supporters. More than 125 Wingettes, a record for the event, competed to be declared "Wingette of the Year." Nicole, a pretty brunette, won the title and a 2012 Harley Davidson Sportster motorcycle.
Also attending the event as featured Wingettes were adult film actresses Jenna Jameson and Mary Carey.
Gentleman Jerry, a perennial competitor, won the award for the most creative entourage for the fourth time. He told WIP radio host Rhea Hughes that it took six weeks to build. He'll get a free vacation.
Wing Bowl was created in 1993 by Sportsradio WIP radio host Al Morganti as a diversion for sports fans then mired in a pro sports championship drought. The event, first held in a Center City Philadelphia hotel lobby in 1993, now attracts a crowd of about 20,000.
Other contestants in the field included US Male, Hot Pockets and first-timer The Ukraine Train.