. Shorty Long and his band have entered the Wachovia Center floor. Skip Denenberg just sang the new Wing Bowl anthem and the 30 contestants and their entourages will soon follow.
Next up: Brad "the Lunatic" Sciullo enters the floor in a cage, replete with a cheating theme. Characters include "Tony Romo" and "Jessica Simpson," "Terrell Owens" and "Howard Eskin" in a fur.
Big Brian and his "not very impressive entourage," as characterized by Rhea Hughes of WIP, enters next.
Now on the floor: The Unfit Fitter, sponsored by the Steamfitters Union, and Baby Wally, whose float is adorned by a spectacular group of Wingettes. The WIP gang is crowing about a red bikini.
Dave the Dumpster, aka Dave Moyer of Trappe, Pa., all 340 lbs. of him, has a float with a number of dumpsters, including one with midgets. Rhea has informed the audience that one of his Wingettes is wearing a fishnet top with no bra. Others are wearing cheerleader outfits.
Randall Patrick Bertoletti is next up. A competitive eater from Chicago, his entourage is as lean as he is, though a schoolgirl outfit is noted. He is one of the major eaters in this competition.
The Unknown Eater, the contestant of WIP host Glen Macnow, enters with a Gong Show theme. He wears a bag over his head.
Toga! Toga! Toga! Wing King's float goes Roman, with a bevy of beauties. Wing King is Paul Sakelarides of Perkiomenville.
With a float shaped like a giant popcorn bowl (actually the Liberty Bell turned upside down), The Natural makes his entrance.
Dr. Bigtime is next. He is dressed as a doctor and accompanied by a number of naughty nurses. They are throwing cash to the crowd. Jerry the Menace is next in.
Dan (Calter) the Cop, who consumed 12 ounces of maple syrup in 7 seconds to qualify for Wing Bowl 16, has a syrup-themed float.
The Caveman is up next and makes a statement with his float: Pay Ryan Howard, a sign says. True to his name, it's a pirate and cavemen theme.
An ambulance has arrived. No, no injuries at Wing Bowl, just the arrival of Dr. Digestion and another group of attractive nurses.
Ted Bundy Serial Wing Killer is next on the floor. You can imagine the theme of this float.
El Zorro, aka Julio Davila of Vineland, is surrounded by girls in bustiers and one of them is the daughter of WIP overnight host Big Daddy Graham.
The Bull Dog comes in on a float complete with a fenced-in yard. He breaks out of his cage and is tearing apart a Michael Vick dummy. He followed Obi Wing, aka Doug Petock of Valley Forge.
Wing Kong and his entourage of Delilah's Den dancers are in the house now. The girls are at home on the float: it features a strippers' pole. The dancers impressed the WIP gang, including Hugh Douglas, who said simply, "Wow."
The huge float of Gentleman Jerry, aka Jerry Coughlin of Clifton Heights, is arriving. It's a train of cars, including a salute to Wing Bowls past. "This may be the most impressive entrance we've ever seen," Rhea tells Angelo. Coughin was a Wing Off winner.
Bob Shoudt of Royersford and Wing Tut (Audubon's Elliott Maruffi) are the next contestants on parade. Wing Tut's float carries an appropriate Egyptian theme with Pyramids.
Damaging Doug arrives, ripping shirts off his Wingettes and causing a wardrobe malfunction.
U.S. Male and a group of stunning beautiful Wingettes parade in with a patriotic theme that goes awry. The targets: "Osama Bin Laden" and "Howard Eskin."
Delayed by a late bathroom break, reigning champion Joey Chestnut is making his way to the floor. George Shea, president of the IFOCE, is commanding the crowd to get on its knees in praise of the San Jose eating dynamo. The lights are dimming.
Miss Wing Bowl arrives with a gladiator theme.
The crowd greets El Wingador with a massive roar. The Woodbury, N.J., eater's entourage is huge; the float is an Indy racing theme.
The eating has begun!
Brad the Lunatic is out in front on his fourth plate, with Joey Chestnut, El Wingador and The Unfit Fitter chasing.
Also on their fourth plates: Chestnut and Wingador.
Joey Chestnut is cracking the wings before eating them.
Bertoletti is falling behind, as Brad the Lunatic plows through his sixth plate.
The first half is over. Ten eater will move into the next half. Some eaters were looking like they were in trouble, including The Unfit Fitter, who is turning green, according to Glen Macnow.
Gentleman Jerry, for the second year in the row, wins for Best Entourage.
The Wingettes are shaking it, as they compete for a new car.
The top 10 (actually 12, due to an accounting error) who will move to the second round:
Dave the Dumpster, 70 wings.
Dr. Digestion, 71.
Gabe Cocktail, 74.
Unknown Eater, 79.
Wing Kong, 80.
U.S. Male, 81.
Gentleman Jerry, 83.
Patrick Bertoletti, 104.
El Wingador, 107.
Brad the Lunatic, 112.
Joey Chestnut, 124.
Chestnut wins the 2008 Black 883 Sportster motorcycle from Barb's Harley Davidson.
Second round to come.
Second round is under way, and Dr. Digestion has bowed out without eating another wing. El Wingador is picking up the pace, finishing his first plate before Joey Chestnut.
A wiggling Joey Chestnut seems to be out front, with El Wingador playing catch-up, at least 4-5 wings behind. With six minutes to go in the second half, Chestnut is approaching 200 wings.
Gag alert: Caveman seems to be struggling. El Wingador still chasing with 90 seconds to go.
Second half is over. Five eaters will move onto the sprint round. Chestnut, El Wingador and Bertoletti look like definites to advance.
Brad the Lunatic is disqualified by Commissioner Pat Croce... for snorting chicken
. Wingette Jillian wins a new Scion car.
Moving ahead to final 2-minute sprint round are:
Gentleman Jerry, 133 wings through 2 rounds.
U.S. Male, 133.
El Wingador, 189.
Patrick Bertoletti, 211.
Joey Chestnut, 224.
Sprint round is over, and it doesn't look good for El Wingador. Joey Chestnut may need a garage for his Wing Bowl haul. He's set a new record easily. Maybe he will change his mind about not coming back next year. El Wingador, however, looks to have reached the 200-wing mark he has always coveted.
It's Joey Chestnut. He ate 241 chicken wings to win his third straight Wing Bowl crown. He wins a Toyota Tundra for his efforts and a beautiful ring. In addition to the motorcycle he won earlier.
Here's the final five:
Winner: Joey Chestnut, 241 wings.
Runner-up: Patrick Bertoletti, 227.
Third: El Wingador, 205.
Fourth: U.S. Male, 143
Fifth: Gentleman Jerry, 139.
El Wingador is a gracious loser, telling Angelo he was honored to compete with the likes of Chestnut and Bertoletti.
So El Wingador's much ballyhooed return to the Wing Bowl didn't end with him winning the Wing Bowl for a sixth time. He was the obvious crowd favorite and remains so for the 20,000-or-so people who trekked to the Wachovia Center at 6 a.m. this morning to watch men eat chicken wings. Instead, Joey Chestnut swallowed a Wing Bowl-record 241 wings to capture his third straight crown. It was an impressive feat, and he was far enough out in front by the final round to temper the drama.
So what about next year? El Wingador told the Daily News' Dan Gross on his PhillyGossip blog that he was retiring for good. Earlier this week, Gross reported that Chestnut would not return to Wing Bowl after this year. But the winner softened that stance this morning, seeming to allow that he may take some time off and return to take on a new champion.
In addition to Chestnut and Simmons, a few other eaters stood out, including runner-up Patrick Bertoletti of Chicago, U.S. Male of Voorhees and Gentleman Jerry of Clifton Heights.
The field is open. Who will step up in '09?