By Joseph Santoliquito
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) —Sometime Friday morning Jonathan “Super” Squibb will steal away from his entourage, all the backstage hoopla and chaos that promises to be Wing Bowl 20 and seek out a small focus corner, his own personal fortress of solitude. The three-time Wing Bowl champion will clear his mind and envision what he did last year, and the year before, and the year before that.
That’s his way, and it hasn’t failed him, as is his placid manner he carries the night before. It’s down time for Squibb, who was feeling relaxed and ready Thursday night at the Wing Bowl weigh-in at Chickie & Pete’s in South Philadelphia, as they all lined up before him, “Snack Jack, Elmer Fudd, Hot Pockets, The Rooster, Skin & Bones and Freak of Nature,” thinking they had a shot at beating Squibb.
They probably don’t have a prayer. Not against Squibb, who weighed in at a very lean 247 pounds. Squibb looks more like an NFL linebacker, hiding a build that has 8-percent body fat.
Still, the 26-year-old CPA wore a devilish grin, with plans on exceeding what he did last year, when he established a new Wing Bowl record by downing 255 wings in outlasting old wingmaster Bill “El Wingador” Simmons. Yet for Wing Bowl 20, the champ feels slighted, as if he’s been pushed aside and made to wait in the wings by the considerable shadow of international guest eating star Takeru Kobayashi, who weighed 138 pounds and will be competing in Wing Bowl for the first time.
Squibb wants everyone to know he is still the champion until someone beats him. Even though for the second-straight year, he won’t be introduced last, an unspoken privilege every champion receives. That honor will go instead to Kobayashi, something that makes Squibb seethe quietly.
“I understand Kobayashi’s long history of competitive eating, and I respect that, but I am the champion,” Squibb said. “I think that gets a little lost here. It’s no big deal. At the end of the day, it’s still about who eats the most wings. It’s something that motivates me even more. This isn’t really that much different from last year. I feel the same as I did last year. My focus is the same as last year, The task I have ahead of me hasn’t changed, either, but I have to admit, this will be something new. I haven’t competed in anything like this, definitely not on this scale.”
The event will probably come down to Squibb and Kobayashi, both 2-to-1 favorites. And though this level of attention is unprecedented for Squibb, he’s grown accustomed to it. During his reign, he’s found his face on the front page of newspapers and displayed on billboards, along with seeing himself on TV. Through it all, Squibb has carried himself exceptionally well, maintaining an understated equilibrium. He’s a guy who has fun eating wings—that’s all, nothing more. He just happens to do it better than anyone else.
It’s a title he’s not so ready to relinquish.
For 30 minutes on Friday, he’ll try to embody the Phillies, Flyers, Sixers and Eagles for the 20,000 that will fill the Wells Fargo Center. He equates the Kobayashi challenge to Rocky IV fighting for his fans.
“That’s the way I see it, I’m the defending champion and I’m defending what you call home,” Squibb said. “I was 300 pounds in high school and I worked all of that off to walk on to Rutgers’ crew team. I built myself up from there, so yes, you can say I’m self made. And I like what I’ve worked for. I absolutely want this to be my crowd. It’s why it’s more important to me to be the first to win four-straight Wing Bowls than beating Kobayashi. This is a giant event on a local scale, it’s a Philadelphia event.”