Three thin women ruled the U.S. Professional Wing Eating Championship on Sunday at Coca-Cola Field, eating a total of nearly 500 chicken wings in 12 minutes to easily outpace their seven male counterparts.
Miki Sudo, 28, of Las Vegas, consumed 178 wings, 20 more than Michelle Lesco of Tucson, Ariz., with five-time champion Sonya “The Black Widow” Thomas, of Alexandria. Va., finishing third with 141. Joey Chestnut, who beat Thomas last year and had been expected to defend his title, was a no-show.
“The people were so supportive, so energetic, and this event has been so much fun,” said Sudo, who weighs 115 pounds and began participating as an amateur a year ago before turning pro in April.
The New York native also won Saturday’s Buffet Bowl Contest, which featured platters of Buffalo food products such as beef on weck, pizza and wings.
“One contest is exciting as it is, but to have two wrapped up in a two-day period is something else,” Sudo said. “I just can’t wait for next year.”
The combined weight of the three women was 345 pounds, which is less that the 407-pound weight of contestant Eric “Bandlands” Booker, the 2006 winner.
The crowd seemed to enjoy watching the women’s commanding performance. “I don’t know how the women do it, but I think it’s fantastic,” said Bill Ayler of North Tonawanda.
“I think they must be binge-purgers, because they are so thin and so well fit,” laughed Denise Reisdorf of Arcade, adding the men “were just there for show.”
Fourth-place winner, Yasir Salem, 19, competed after completing an iron man competition two weeks ago.
“It’s hard work, whether it’s a marathon or triathlon or an eating competition. I look forward to the competition,” Salem said.
Drew Cerza, founder of the annual National Buffalo Wing Festival, said attendance was up Sunday over Saturday and the overall attendance of 72,000 was down from last year’s total of 80,000.
“It’s been one of the best,” said Cerza, wearing a large foam chicken wing on his head while sporting a magenta robe with the title “Wing King” on the back.
People walked on a covering stretched across the baseball stadium’s outfield, consuming numerous varieties of wings from the 32 vendors on hand.
Samantha Knight of Buffalo and boyfriend Dan Riggi of Scotia said they ate about 40 wings and were still adding to their total. “It’s amazing. I’m really glad we came,” Knight said.
“We’re jammin’, we’re rockin’,” said Rob Rush, general manager of Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, the popular restaurant chain in Syracuse, Rochester, Troy and Harlem that is scheduled to open in Buffalo in January. Rush said his restaurant sold 7,681 wings on Saturday alone – and they were even busier Sunday, lending further proof that the company’s decision to come to Buffalo, he said, was the right one.
“I’ve heard good things about them. It’s my first stop,” said Keisha Leavy with her friend Trice Barefield, both of Amherst, who were at the head of several long lines of people waiting to place their Dinosaur Bar-B-Que orders.
At the Anchor Bar booth, Diana Monaco said people from outside the region were curious about the local wing-eating institution’s history.
For some wing-eaters, there were just too many choices. Patricia Clarke, who was attending with her friend Richard Pompey, was hoping to find a box because she was juggling wings and a beef on weck from Charlie the Butcher.
It wasn’t all about the chicken. Spicy Buffalo Rolls were being introduced at Costanzo’s booth, and “vegetarian wings” – made with green beans and gouda cheese – joined hummus and mac and cheese, being sold by chef Steven Binks in partnership with Blue Cross Blue Shield, as healthier alternatives.
Emcee George Shea revved up the crowd with excitable and rapid-fire banter,
“Fifty billion chickens dead this year. No humans. And some say let’s pull back, let’s rest on our laurels, we’ve got them where we want them,” Shea said with tongue-in-cheek exhortations to the crowd. “You know what I say, no, let’s press ahead, let’s get them while they’re down.”
“Oh, am I in trouble with PETA,” he added in a lowered voice, referring to People for the Ethical Treatment for Animals.