The morning ended on a quiet note for Woodbury Heights’ Bill “El Wingador” Simmons.
After a day that began with him parading into the Wells Fargo Center atop a throne fit for a king–or at least a five-time Wing Bowl champion–Simmons came down from the stage, hoisted his 4-year-old son, Sean, on to his shoulder and waded through an ocean of confetti on his way out.
The comeback had fallen a millimeter short.
The difference was a single wing.
Jonathan “Super” Squibb, the two-time defending champ and Berlin native, nipped at Simmons’ heels through the first two rounds, before passing him in the final moments, downing 255 wings to Simmons’ 254 to win the Wing Bowl 19 title. Both men broke the previous record at Wing Bowl, which Joey Chestnut had previously set at 241.
Simmons, gracious in defeat, gathered Squibb in a bear hug on the bed of the new truck the men were competing to win, and tipped his cap afterward.
“How can I complain?” Simmons said. “That guy’s a great eater.”
Simmons, 49, was making a one-shot comeback out of his retirement from competitive eating, and set an audacious goal of 280 to 300 wings when he announced his entrance into Wing Bowl on WIP in December.
That goal seemed within reach from the outset, with the competition fierce and speedy. Simmons set the pace, chewing through 150 wings in the first round to lead the pack and take a three-wing lead over Squibb. After turning more than a few paper towels bright orange while cleaning his face and hands afterwards, Simmons gazed out into bowl of the stadium and lifted a thumbs-up.
After a break that featured world champion eater Takeru Kobayashi destroying a cheesesteak in 24.3 seconds, Simmons and Squibb resumed their blistering pace; with his Wingettes chanting, “Wing-a-dor!”, Simmons clung to a slim, 238-237 lead at the end of the second round.
The momentum had clearly shifted, though; Simmons was sweating heavily and looked like a prizefighter in the late rounds, while Squibb stood from his chair and bounced around before the final wing-off.
And that’s where it was all decided. Both men were noticeably slowed down, but Squibb, still standing behind his chair, gyrated like a maniacal marionette as he twisted the meat from another 18 wings. Simmons, his mouth encircled by an orange halo, fought until the end, but couldn’t hold off his youthful opponent.
The eaters were competing for a 2011 Dodge Ram 1500, $20,000 in cash and a ring from Steven Singer Jewelers–all totaled, about $50,000 in cash and prizes.
By winning it all, Squibb joined Chestnut and Simmons as the only champions to win three Wing Bowls in a row.
Porn star Ron Jeremy, one of several adult movie moguls on hand for Wing Bowl, expressed disbelief that Wing Bowl could sell out an entire stadium.
“It could only happen in Philadelphia,” he said.