January 18, 2013 by Shannon Nolan
Anthony Wisniewski, a master’s student studying business administration, will put his stomach to the test Feb. 1 when he competes in Philadelphia’s annual Wing Bowl at the Wells Fargo Center.
Competing under the pseudonym “Wiz-Kid,” Wisniewski, 23, will try to eat as many chicken wings as he can, going up against 28 other contestants, including three-time Wing Bowl champion “Super Squibb.”
“I’m doing this because it’s going to be fun for me. I love the challenge,” Wisniewski said. “It’s big, and I can’t wait to meet Squibb and all of the other eaters.”
There are two ways contestants can qualify for the Bowl. The first is to compete in a Wingoff, eating as many chicken wings as possible in a 10-minute span, with the winner of each Wingoff automatically qualifying for the Wing Bowl. The second is to create and perform an “eating stunt” with the purpose of devouring one’s set food in a time agreed on by the contestant and SportsRadio 94 WIP radio personality Al Morganti. Wisniewski chose the latter.
“We took it as a kind of marketing scheme: ‘How can we market this to them that they can’t deny my request?’ And we thought of the grossest thing that I would attempt to eat … it came down to cow tongue,” Wisniewski said, “I’ve had it before … and it was actually pretty good. But a whole cow tongue is disgusting.”
Wisniewski, also a resident assistant in North Hall, was given the opportunity to compete in the Wing Bowl after eating a cow tongue in five and a half minutes live on “Angelo Cataldi & The Morning Team,” an early-morning talk show on WIP.
“They called me during finals week last term … and I’m sitting there studying and I’m listening to the radio station. And I get the phone call … they asked me if I wanted to come in and do my eating stunt,” Wisniewski said. “I said, ‘all right, well, I’m not really sure if I want to do this anymore. I might be rethinking it. Can I get a friend to do it?’ And I hung up the phone. Literally five minutes later [my friend] convinced me to do it.”
Having attended the past four Wing Bowls as an audience member, getting the chance to audition to become a contestant was exciting, though Wisniewski said that the morning of the on-air stunt was rushed.
“I had all of the stuff set up, but it was so fast-paced I couldn’t even think about it. I forgot what I was even doing, and before I knew it they were like ‘OK, 3,2,1’… and then I started eating this thing,” Wisniewski said.
He described how it had come down to the last 40 seconds, and he still had a quarter of the tongue to go.
“I’m thinking to myself, ‘I finished all of this, I have to ram it at the end.’ So I’m like eating through it, and there’s like 10 seconds left so I start putting these huge pieces in my mouth,” Wisniewski said, “And my mouth’s full, [Morganti] calls it, and then they start making jokes.”
When the last bits of tongue were swallowed, Wisniewski was accepted into the competition.
Part of the pre-Bowl preparations included building a float and putting together a 10-person entourage.
Wisniewski’s theme for float is the Drexel Dragon, hoping to tie into his Wiz-Kid nickname and represent Drexel.
“I’ve always wanted to be on the floor in somebody’s entourage. And nobody would eat so I could do that; so I could fulfill that dream,” Wisniewski said. “So I did it myself so at least my friends could be on the floor. It’s cool that I’m eating. I’ll still have fun. If I do well this year and I keep training for next year, I might do it again. I’m still young.”
Wisniewski has spent the past few weeks training for the Bowl, eating a fiber-filled, low-calorie diet and working out at the gym more frequently — all in the effort to expand his stomach.
“Now I can put down about five, six pounds of food easy without a problem,” Wisniewski said.
He has also trained in speed, with a current standing of devouring 50 wings in six and a half to seven minutes.
Per the rules of the challenge, contestants are expected to eat as many wings as they can within the first 14-minute period. The top 10 contestants from the first round will move on to a second 14-minute period. The top-five contestants from the second round move on to a two-minute period, where the winner is chosen.
“To the everyday person who has no idea what the Wing Bowl is, … they just think it’s a stupid chicken-eating contest. But the people who have been to the Wing Bowl, who have ever described it, it’s absolutely much more than that,” Wisniewski said.
Besides the Wingoff and Eating Stunt contestants, the event will also feature contestants from local affiliate news stations throughout the country. The overall winner will walk away with $20,000, while the contestants with the top entourage will receive six pairs of round-trip tickets to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.
What was once a small contest between two eaters and a little over 100 fans at the Bowl’s start in 1993 has turned into an event with over 40 contestants and 20,000 fans in a large arena. With Wing Bowl 2013 marking 21 years of success, the event’s tagline this year is, “We’re legal.”
Hosted annually by WIP, the idea for the Bowl came after Morganti realized that the Philadelphia Eagles wouldn’t be making it to the Super Bowl that year, so he came up with a bowl that could be held no matter how well the Eagles did. It has traditionally been held annually at 6 a.m. on the Friday before the Super Bowl.