They often say that some of life’s greatest moments happen when you aren’t even expecting them. In the case of Bill Simmons, one would have to believe that’s true.
After developing a reputation as a ferocious eater in a small South Jersey town in the late 1990s, Bill, who stands at 6’5” and weighed 290 pounds at the peak of his eating prowess, received a random phone call that changed his life forever. The call was from a former contestant of Wing Bowl, a chicken wing eating contest created by Philadelphia sports talk show hosts Angelo Cataldi and Al Morganti, who believed Bill had what it took to become an eating champion. After Simmons passed the eating stunt on SportsRadio 610WIP (now 94WIP), he became a Wing Bowl contestant and promptly won the event in his debut. Bill Simmons was now known throughout the Delaware Valley as “El Wingador.” Bill’s “everyman” personality, combined with his charisma and national appeal, made him a household name. His five Wing Bowl championships are still a record, and gave him the title of the “World’s Greatest 30-Minute Eater.” Bill’s numerous television appearances and commercials helped bring Wing Bowl to tremendous heights and national attention. The event now attracts 20,000 attendees each year.
Behind the scenes however, there was trouble brewing. A recession, followed by a failed business venture and the events surrounding its demise, left Bill in desolate circumstances, which led him down a dangerous and destructive path of drug dealing. Bill’s transgressions caught up with him when he was arrested in 2012 and subsequently sentenced to a lengthy prison term. While incarcerated, Bill faced obstacles he never envisioned for himself, and a series of violent altercations, several near-death experiences and some shocking family news drove Bill to the brink of despair, and he truly wondered whether he was ever going to leave prison alive. After some extensive soul searching, Bill didn’t give up. He found solace in therapy and Bible Study, which he still attends regularly to this day. After several more stumbling blocks, Bill was finally released. Since then, Bill has rekindled his relationship was his family, and is always willing to spend his time helping others and offering encouragement, so that they don’t suffer the same mishaps that he once did.
With a possible reality television series as well as a restaurant and speaking engagements in the works, the sky is indeed the limit for Bill Simmons. The road hasn’t been an easy one, but his future is as bright as he wants it to be, and he’s just getting started.