PHILADELPHIA, PA (CBS) — Patrick Bertoletti is at it again. He’ll wring and stretch his insides to the limit, trying to trick and train his body into doing the abnormal. He devoured a record 444 wings in 26 minutes to win Wing Bowl 23 last year, and learned a number of valuable lessons in doing it.
Bertoletti, who edged Wing Bowl 22 winner Molly Schuyler by four, said his plans are to eat at least that many wings this year.
“Me and Molly pushed each other to greatness last year,” said Bertoletti, who will be arriving in Philadelphia Wednesday night to defend his title on Friday morning at Wing Bowl 24 at the Wells Fargo Center. “I remember doing really well in the first round, and then hitting the wall in the second round.
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“I felt I had to go for broke in the last two minutes (eating 51 wings). Oh, I felt it last year. You actually have to be in good shape to do it. That’s why you can’t be overly big. Eating is a physical activity that takes a toll on your body. There are a lot of elements to Wing Bowl that make it more challenging than any other eating contest. For one, you’re eating at six in the morning. Wing Bowl is one of the best competitions I’ve ever been involved in.”
Bertoletti admitted he couldn’t relax the night before the contest. He said this time he’ll try to combat the nervous excitement.
“I looked like hell and felt terrible after I finished last year,” admitted Bertoletti, a chef for a small Chicago restaurant who once joined a group in eating a whole goat last fall to exorcise the Chicago Cubs’ jinx. “I’m going to stick with my same game plan, which is to go as fast as I can. Wing Bowl is an event that goes 30 minutes, so it’s as much about endurance as it is about speed. One of the reasons why I love Wing Bowl so much is the spectacle and the fans of Philly.”
Bertoletti said he would probably like to travel out and watch Wing Bowl if he wasn’t competing in it.
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“This year, I started training a lot earlier than I did last year, because I know Molly isn’t going to take it easy,” Bertoletti said. “You can’t ever count her out. My capacity wasn’t what it should have been last year, and it’s why I began training earlier this year. My goal is to be in better eating shape. I’m trying to stretch my stomach out.”
Chicken wings are protein and the food tends to sit heavy in the stomach. Bertoletti put his body through a lot of expanding and contracting.
On Monday, after a football game, a player might hobble around, the joints, shoulders, ankles, knees and head a little sore from all of the collisions.
“Football is very unnatural, but eating 444 wings is even more unnatural than football,” Bertoletti said. “I’ll be happy if I do what I did last year. Hitting 500 wouldn’t be bad, though I don’t like to make predictions. I prefer to let the eating to the talking.”