Was El Wingador Cheating?

The Courier Post reports,

Bill “El Wingador” Simmons of Woodbury Heights [New Jersey] was pulled over in Harrison, State Police Lt. Stephen Jones said.

Authorities seized $8,000 worth of cocaine and $4,000 in cash in his 2010 custom Kia Soul following searches of his vehicle and home. Police stopped Simmons, 50, following a month-long cooperative investigation between the state police and the Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office…. He remains in Gloucester County Jail on $100,000 full-cash bail on first-degree cocaine distribution charges.

In the world of competitive eating, which I wrote about for the Standard in 2002, Simmons is a legend—he’s won five Wing Bowls. He is also in the Wing Bowl Hall of Fame. (But at the last bowl in February, it was Takeru Kobayashi who stole the show, devouring 337 wings in 30 minutes, leaving Simmons in third place—250 wings.)

So does the cocaine charge somehow soil Simmons’s reputation? Was El Wingador on cocaine when he competed? Will there be an asterisk next to his name? Will his name even remain in the Hall of Fame? Could this be the worst scandal to rock professional sports (yes, it’s a sport!) since Mark McGwire admitted to using steroids? Since the Chicago Black Sox?

I briefly thought I had an email from El Wingador after my Standard piece was published. But going through old correspondence, I discovered it was not from Simmons but rather from another competitor, Coondog O’Karma, a World Doughnut Eating Champion. Below is an excerpt from his touching email, regarding the Glutton Bowl that aired on Fox back in 2002:

No one threw up during the show, which is surprising because the food was unbelievably bad.  Privately, I am sure there were some Linda Blair moments. The contestants of the Glutton Bowl are some of the nicest people I have ever met in my life.  There is some kind of good-hearted, old-fashioned carnival spirit in the people that enter these eating contests. While making the show I never laughed so hard in my life.  Forty people (most of us strangers) from all over the country (and Japan), jammed together for three days in a big room, and never a nasty word from one.  A real fraternity, the IFOCE [International Federation of Competitive Eating].

(Hat tip: Sonny Bunch)

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