You’d forgive Dave “U.S. Male” Goldstein if the frustration finally got to him at Wing Bowl after coming close, again and again.
Third at Wing Bowl 19.
Fourth at Wing Bowl 16.
Fifth at Wing Bowl 15.
Fifth at Wing Bowl 20.
The Voorhees native and Cherry Hill postal carrier had a plan, though: Slim down, change up his training and make a major push, with a shot at becoming the top local in this year’s twist.
It ended up paying off big, as Goldstein dropped 40 pounds and added 40 wings to his best-ever total, downing 266 to win the local bracket at Wing Bowl 21 at the Wells Fargo Center Friday.
“It went better than I expected,” Goldstein said afterward. “I’m thrilled—goal one is to win the whole thing, but my other goal was to at least come out as the local winner.”
Coming out of the gate, it looked like he had a shot at winning everything—Goldstein stormed out of the gate, prompting gasps of disbelief from WIP morning co-host Rhea Hughes, who at one point exclaimed she’d never seen Goldstein eat the way he did in the opening round.
He ended up with a 10-wing lead after the first round, with 148 wings—an average of a wing down his gullet every six seconds—a mark not far off from the record-setting pace of Takeru Kobayashi’s performance last year, and flashed a grin and a thumbs-up to the capacity crowd as his total was announced from the floor.
With the pole position in the second round of 14 minutes of gluttony, Goldstein said there was some added pressure, standing next to three-time champ Jonathan “Super” Squibb, but not enough to scare him off the quest for a title.
“I’m a professional eater, and I’ve done this many times,” Goldstein said. “I know he’s beatable, and I took my shot.”
What Goldstein may not have been counting on was the second-round push from James “The Bear” McDonald, the only competitor whose second 14 minutes went better than the first.
Though he had slipped to third heading into the final two-minute push, Goldstein said his extra training, especially the mental side of competition, paid off in keeping him lasered in on nabbing the local title.
“Staying focused is the main thing—going up there and not worrying about what’s going on with the girls and the music, just eating and doing the best I can,” he said.
Not only did he capture the local title, he hung with Squibb and McDonald—who won by five wings—to the end, finishing less than 20 wings off the overall winning pace.
On top of his wing-eating performance, Goldstein also captured the award for best entourage—and a trip to the Dominican Republic—with his “Bynumland” float, which mocked the beleaguered 76ers center, who has yet to play this season after being traded from the Los Angeles Lakers.
Goldstein, in a Lakers Bynum jersey and an Afro wig, skewered the center in every way possible, from a salary check for “one bazillion dollars”—though the numbers were written out for exactly one quadrillion dollars—to Goldstein going down on a dual basketball court/bowling alley with a mock knee injury.
Pulling off the nearly impossible—winning the overall competition, the local bracket and the entourage competition—would’ve been ideal, Goldstein said, but he wasn’t upset with walking away with a pair of trophies.
“I was going for the trifecta, but as the song says, two out of three ain’t bad,” he said.