Bernie, Kobi, and Tony
I pulled into the Wells Fargo Center parking lot a little later than I would have liked to this morning– around 5:50 a.m.
I was late.
By this point, bottles and cans interspersed with piss and vinegar were already lining the parking lot. I hopped out of my car, breathed in some brisk marijuana-filled air, and scrambled into the building.
I was told by one of Kobayashi’s managers that I could join the world-famous eater as he prepared to down what became a record-setting 337 wings. I received my instructions to proceed to the NBA 1 locker room. This, of course, meant that I had to walk roughly a third of the way around the building in the concrete tunnels that line the bottom floor of The Well.
Or so I thought.
You see, at Wing Bowl, making what would normally be about a 40-second journey quickly turns into a 15-minute obstacle course filled with fat guys, floats, I think a chicken, Bob “The Hound” Kelly, strippers, security guards and drunk entourage members, all of which are crammed into an area so tight that, judging by the humidity and not-so-sweet scent of cheap perfume in the air, you would swear you were buried cheekbones deep in the cleavage of a run-of-the-mill stripper on Delaware Ave. And if I wasn’t careful, that would surely be the case.
As I dodged clunky floats, Jenna Jameson, media, some sort of bird feed, and a bunch of security guards who looked like they were about to give up, I saw NBA 1 in front of me. A quick shimmy, a stiff arm, did I just step on a tit?, a juke, a jive, a spin, and…. I was standing face-to-face with an angry orange-haired woman, around the age of 60, who was guarding the door to Kobayashi’s dressing room like a mother hen protecting her eggs from a fucking honey badger. I reached for the door.
She squawked. Honest to God, she squawked at me. I was squawked at… by a woman. Or a hen. I don’t know, just let me in.
I fired off a desperate text before the angry fowl plucked the hairs out of my head.
The door opened– I was in.
Seated along the side wall was Takero Kobayashi, the greatest eater in the world. He’s from Japan, and he is a decidedly different being than the dozens of animals who congregated just outside the aluminum door.
Kobi, as they call him, bounced around the room. Then sat down. Bounced around the room some more. Then sat down again. He was full of nervous energy, but in no way intimidated. He performed interviews like they were a mere distraction to his air boxing, and greeted Tony Luke Jr. and Bernie Parent like they were long lost brothers. It was an odd scene, seeing a small man who spoke little English intermingle with an adopted Canadian and one of the most Philly folks you will find. But, it wouldn't last long– it was about time for Kobi to head back out into the wild to crush all comers. Plus, the whole Zen thing wasn't for Bernie. He would later rejoin the rank and file, according to reader Dan:
Needless to say, the scene inside NBA 1 was, by far, the most normal sequence of events that played out inside the Wells Fargo Center Friday morning.
After the jump is a video of the scene inside Kobi’s locker room before the eating champ downed 337 wings, a Wing Bowl record.