Patrick Bertoletti didn’t vomit on Friday.
It was a close call, but the Pilsen native held down 444 chicken wings he ate in 30 minutes to win Philadelphia’s 23rd annual Wing Bowl.
“I finally feel normal again today,” said Bertoletti on Monday afternoon.
The Wing Bowl, which sounds like something out of a “Mad Max” movie, was held before a full house in the Wells Fargo Center, where the Philadelphia Flyers play hockey.
“You know how they say, ‘You’ve got to see a NASCAR race before you die,’ this is like that,” said Bertoletti, who’s 29, weighs 208 pounds and stands six feet, two inches tall.
“It’s pure insanity. The contest starts at like 6:30 a.m. and the whole stadium is filled with drunken idiots from Philadelphia,” said Bertoletti, who antagonized the crowd by riding into the competition on a float designed in the color schemes of the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys — the most hated rivals of Philadelphia Eagles football fans.
“Philadelphia fans are almost psychotic in their devotion to their teams,” he said.
An impersonator of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un also accompanied Bertoletti on the float, so it was no surprise that the crowd tossed beer and ice on Bertoletti.
“The premise is a chicken wing eating contest, but there are lots of scantily clad women there, and the whole thing is more of a big party, and I applaud them for that,” he said.
“The bars close late and then people go to the stadium and tailgate and drink in the parking lot and then go inside the stadium — and they serve beer there too,” Bertoletti said. “People who go pretty much try to drink as many straight hours as they can.”
Bertoletti won $18,000 and a Harley Davidson motorcycle, worth $20,000, which he plans to sell.
“This is the best day of my life, other than opening a restaurant and my niece being born. Somebody give me a drink,” Bertoletti was quoted on Philadelphia television station just after winning the event.
His winnings will be invested in Taco In A Bag, the eatery he plans to open in March in Lincoln Square at 4603 N. Lincoln Ave.
Bertoletti, who’s competed in past wing-eating contests, as well as Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest (the Super Bowl of the hobby) said his career earnings total about $350,000 from about 300 eating competitions.
The day before the latest event, Bertoletti drank Pepto-Bismol, yogurt and milk to coat his stomach for the abuse he planned to endure.
“I was literally exhausted,” said Bertoletti of the come-from-behind win in which he ingested between 10 and 12 pounds of chicken.
“I was really tired of eating wings,” he said.
“I knew I was going to punish my body,” said Bertoletti, who attended Kendall College. “I’m close to the end of my career. Obviously it’s not healthy. My main focus now will be the restaurant.”