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04/10/12 9:25 AM EDT

Hooters® Kicks Off Coast-to-Coast Wing-Eating Competition

Chicken wing expert, Hooters of America, LLC, announced that it has engaged Major League Eating (MLE) to sanction and produce a circuit of wing-eating contests across the United States that will conclude at the Hooters Wing-Eating World Championship in New York City. The finale will take place in late July as part of a weekend celebration of National Chicken Wing Day.

"For nearly 30 years Hooters has been known for our original, world-famous hot wings and it's only natural that we establish this inaugural coast-to-coast wing-eating competition," said David Henninger, chief marketing officer, Hooters of America, LLC. "At Hooters, we're all about great food, great fun and this competition exemplifies that spirit."

Chicken wing eating has never previously been a championship circuit to identify and crown an official world champion. This tour will allow Hooters wing-eaters to test their skills against Major League Eating superstars like Joey Chestnut and Sonya "The Black Widow" Thomas.

"We are thrilled to be working with this iconic American restaurant," said Richard Shea, president, Major League Eating. "While each contest will feature well-known Major League Eaters, I am confident we'll find Hooters wing lovers with amazing wing-eating talent in each host city."

The Hooters Wing-Eating World Championship tour kicked off in Augusta, Ga., host city of the Masters Golf Tournament, on April 5 with Sonya "The Black Widow" Thomas. Weighing in at a mere 100 pounds, "The Black Widow" is the world's top-ranked female eater and current five-time National Buffalo Wing-Eating Champion.

Hooters will go on to hold 9 additional wing-eating contests across the country including events in Baltimore, MD; Detroit, MI; Indianapolis, IN; Jacksonville, Fla.; Mesquite, TX; Oklahoma City, OK; San Diego, CA; St. Louis, MO; and Miami, Fla., with the tour concluding in New York where the first Hooters wing-eating world champion will be crowned.

Hooters wing fans can follow each contest, keep track of the local winners and see a schedule for future events through Hooters' Facebook page.

Major League Eating will register competitors at All competitors must be at least 21 years old.

To find your nearest Hooters location, visit