Reading Fair contest winner qualifies for Wing Bowl 26

Oley man eats 32 ounces of tripe in 45 seconds

PHILADELPHIA - A competitive eater from Berks County can now prepare for one of the biggest contests of them all.

Steve Hillegass, in an appearance on Philadelphia's 94WIP radio show Tuesday morning, qualified to compete in his first-ever Wing Bowl.

The Oley Township man, calling himself "The Toothless Barracuda," ate his way into the contest by downing 32 ounces of pickled tripe in 45 seconds.

Hillegass, representing Klinger's on Carsonia in the Reading's Fair's second annual eating contest in August, then had to eat only two ounces of pickled tripe, along with a hot dog, potato chips, ring bologna, two red beet eggs, sauerkraut, funnel cake, and a soft pretzel. He finished in 6 minutes and 29 seconds.

"Don't think whatever tripe is, and I still don't want anyone to tell me what it is," he told 69 News after his win at the fair. "I don't want to know."

Hillegass' nickname stems from the fact that he owns a 1970 Plymouth AAR Barracuda and that has no teeth. He said he lost his teeth in a motorcycle accident about a decade ago, but he doesn't see that as posing a challenge to his competitive eating abilities.

"There are bones underneath there," he told the WIP hosts.

Wing Bowl 26 will be held February 26 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.

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