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January 30, 2015

Patrick Bertoletti wins Wing Bowl 23

Wing Bowl Eating Contest
013015_wingbowl22_TC Thom Carroll/for PhillyVoice

Patrick Bertoletti celebrates after winning Wing Bowl 23 at the Wells Fargo Center.

Patrick Bertoletti rallied from a nine-wing deficit in the final round to overcome defending-champion Molly Schuyler and win 94 WIP's Wing Bowl 23.

Bertoletti, who downed a record 444 total wings, finished four wings better than Schuyler, with each of them shattering the mark of 383 wings Schuyler set last year. 

Bertoletti took home $10,000 and a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. Schuyler won $10,000 as runner-up.

"I tried to give Philly the best show that I could," said Bertoletti, runner-up to Schuyler last year. "This is best eating event there is."

Notorious B.O.B. was third overall with 280 wings and was the local winner, while Tiger Wings and Things was fourth (260 wings) and Gravy Brown was fifth (219).

"I'll take my $10,000 and be happy with that ... how can I not be?" Schuyler said as she posed in the tunnel with the giant check.

Schuyler and Bertoletti were head-and-shoulders above the rest of the competition. Schuyler ate 399 wings in the first 28 minutes (206 in the first round, 193 in the second) but trailed Bertoletti (208, 182) after the first 14-minute round.

She was able to keep pace with Bertoletti early in the second round but kicked it up to a second gear in the later stages of the round and ultimately passed him before the final head-to-head round, which lasts just two minutes. Bertoletti was second with 390 wings after the second round.

"I was full at the end of the second round and I had to dig deep I didn’t want to lose," Bertoletti said.

In her entire professional eating career, Schuyler had only lost once and trailed Bertoletti early on last year before overtaking him in the late stages to set a Wing Bowl record with 383 wings.

"She's the best,'' Bertoletti said. "It was so close. I knew she was gaining wings on me in the second round. I looked over and just hoped to God I could pull it out."

Headliner Mick Foley, a legend in the world of pro wrestling, was disqualified halfway through the first round for cheating. He was caught stuffing wings into his fanny pack and pants below the table.

Defending champion Molly Schuyler competes Friday in Wing Bowl 23.

“I decided to stretch the rules a little bit,” he said to the crowd after being kicked out. “I think you all can understand that.”

He also pointed to Schuyler, saying there was no chance he could keep up with her pace.

"Foley had a fanny pack of chicken wings,'' co-host Al Morganti said.

Another surprise from the first round was the revelation of the mystery eater, which turned out to be three-time champ Jonathan “Super” Squibb. For the first five minutes of the event, he refused to eat. He ultimately said that he was here not to compete, but to announce his retirement from Wing Bowl. He used this as an opportunity to get in front of the fans that supported him so loudly over the years and offer some thanks.

Storming’ Norman of the University of Pennsylvanian won the college portion of the competition, eating 89 wings in the first round. For his efforts, he receiver a Chrysler 200, but he was not in the top 10 overall, so he failed to advance.

Kate from Royersford won Wingette of the Year and $5,000.

Before the sun even rose this morning, thousands of fans descended on the Wells Fargo Center in South Philadelphia for the iconic eating contest.

The annual festival of gluttony, hosted by WIP Morning Show hosts Angelo Cataldi, Morganti and Rhea Hughes, featured some of the top eaters from across the Delaware Valley and around the world. Cataldi and Morganti are PhillyVoice contributors.

Past champions include world-famous eaters Takeru Kobayashi and Joey Chestnut, as well as local favorites Jonathan "Super" Squibb and Bill "El Wingador" Simmons.

According to Morganti's odds, Schuyler was the favorite to repeat at 2-to-1 Bertoletti was listed at 5-1. 

Earlier, Cataldi predicted Foley had little chance of winning, although his entrance in to the arena would be something to behold.

"There's a fairly good chance [he gets kicked out]. He cheats," Cataldi said in an interview with PhillyVoice earlier this week, citing a previous competitive eating event from which Foley was ejected. "We're holding an event with all these prizes. You can't be caught cheating and if you are, we have to kick you out. We've told him, but I think he's going to cheat anyway."

Perhaps that would be more entertaining. He was a professional wrestler after all.

"That's the concept," Cataldi said jokingly. "Now you're getting the idea. Who wins is not what we're most concerned with. It's the process. It's the show. It's the fun that we have."

All that eating, drinking and screaming and it's over before breakfast.