Joey Chestnut, Competitor in Nathan's Hot Dog-Eating Contest
Clearwater, Florida (WTSP) - They are the fastest, most efficient eaters from across America, gathered at the original Clearwater home of Hooters for the first ever World Wing Eating Championship.
Lined up, bowl after bowl, each was filled with 20 pounds of chicken, or 250 wings fried to crispy perfection.
There was water and each contestant's choice of blue cheese, ranch or hot sauce to wash it all down.
Among the unlikely favorites was Sonja "The Black Widow" Thomas, the reigning Chicken eating champion who weighs in at just over 100 pounds.
With 10 minutes on the clock, the countdown began. An eating extravaganza which, at times, was not easy to watch.
"I have never seen anyone eat that many wings or eat that quickly," said one Hooter's Girl.
Wing after wing, with amazing speed, they swallowed.
"It's not about bulk or quantity it about technique," says George Shea, the chairman of Major League Eating. "It's so hard to get the meat off the bone and some eaters are better stripping it than others."
After 10 stomach gorging minutes, it was all over. A major upset, the Black widow finished third, with the championship down to a final two.
"The winner of the Hooters World Chicken Wing Eating Championship with 144 chicken wings in 10 minutes Joey Chestnut!" proclaimed Shea to the cheers of the crowd.
Asked about how he managed to eat so many wings in 10 minutes Chestnut responded, "It's a big technique food, I actually had to do a lot of practice. I had to go to Hooters quite a bit to get my technique down."
Chestnut left with a $7,500 check and a title belt. Some say he may be the best eater in the world.
"Without any question, competitive eating is the greatest sport there is. It demonstrates the triumph of the human spirit," said Shea. "It's just a person with the food. It's a biological imperative... Who can eat most quickly? who can survive?"