Yesterday blog worlds briefly collided, as an invite from Steakbellie
had me witness to the TripRewards Ultimate Hot Wing Eating Championship
held in NYC's Grand Central Terminal. The event was hosted by Kenan Thompson of "Saturday Night Live" and Nickelodeon's "All That." Kenan, whose participation added much to the proceedings, is a humble and friendly guy - indulging an awestruck fan for a picture and a hearty handclasp.
Security was tight, as would befit such a spectacle. The massed throngs crowding Vanderbilt Hall, continually on the verge of hysteria, somehow maintained a humane dignity during the course of the contest. A fearsome and humorless guard was given responsibility for maintaining order, stationed adjacent to a symbolic tray of hot wings.
This event attracted seven luminaries of the world of competitive eating: In addition to Steakbellie, who holds the 39th slot in the worldwide rankings of competitive eaters, the participants included: Crazy Legs Conti (pictured in furry hat - and ranked #11), Sonya "The Black Widow" Thomas (ranked #4), Joey "JAWS" Chestnut (ranked #2), Tim "Eater X" Janus (ranked #7, and roommate of Crazy Legs Conti - according to the press handout), Steakbellie's pal Micah "Wing Kong" Collins (ranked #43), and the 20-year-old "rookie upstart from Philadelphia" Pete Miernicki.
Lest you think this is all fun and games, let me assure you: these competitors take their eating very seriously. Witness Steakbellie's meditative state (left) as he gets into the competitive eating zone, focusing all his energy on the task soon to be at hand. I was able to meet him very briefly before the eating commenced, but I was careful to not intrude on his pre-food meditation. Clearly, much preparation goes into these events, to say nothing of the careful accessorizing of outfits and choice of accoutrements.
Once the carnage is over, a relieved group of participants surveys the damage from the stage, formulating plans for the next big eat off (left to right: Steakbellie, Wing Kong and Eater X).
Labels: events, media