Would you eat an insect in a competition? Here is a tragic story of a Florida man who died after downing dozens of live roaches during a contest early last month in which the grand prize was a python, has been revealed to have choked to death according to an autopsy released Monday.
Edward Archbold, 32, of West Palm Beach died as a result of ‘asphyxia due to choking and aspiration of gastric contents,’ according to the report released by the Broward County medical examiner’s office.
Lab tests for drugs came back negative. The death has been ruled an accident.
Archbold died after downing the bugs as well as worms in October for the Midnight Madness bug-eating competition at Ben Siegel Reptile Store in Deerfield Beach, about 40 miles north of Miami.
Archbold became ill minutes after the contest and collapsed in front of the store. He was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.
During the competition, Eddie was eating so many live roaches he had to cover his mouth to keep them from crawling out, swallowing some of them whole and still alive.
He ate more than 60 grams of mealworms, 35 three-inch-long ‘super worms’ and a bucket of discoid roaches, according to the Miami Herald.
Eddie – who was father to two daughters aged six and nine – wanted to win the competition so he could give the grand prize of an $850 ivory ball python to his friend as a present. But he started vomiting and collapsed in front of the store shortly after winning.
Prior to the autopsy result Dr Bill Kern, a professor of entomology at the University of Florida, had speculated it might have been an allergic reaction to the large amount of foreign protein that killed the 32-year-old.
He told the Herald: ‘We know cockroaches shed a lot of allergens, but they’re not toxic in and of themselves.
‘Very few [human] cultures tend to eat cockroaches because they store large amounts of uric acid and nitrogenous waste. And they tend to be scavengers and feed on things most people wouldn’t consider to be desirable.’
None of the other 30 competitors fell ill after the contest and store manager Ben Siegel’s attorney said the roaches were all raised in sterile conditions and were perfectly safe to eat.
Despite this, all competitors were asked to sign waivers acknowledging the risks of gastrointestinal illness, adverse allergic reactions – especially in those with shellfish allergies – and injury or pain associated with consuming live insects as they pass through the oesophagus.
Matthew Karwacki, a 26-year-old student at Florida Career College in Lauderdale Lakes, was standing next to Eddie as they both ate the mealworms in the first round. But he said when he tasted his first cockroach, he was out.
‘I just had one roach and tapped out after that,’ he said. ‘The taste did not suit me, but the texture for sure was the worst part.
‘If you could look inside a dirty gutter and scoop up what’s in there, that’s what went through my head. All the other contestants kept eating roaches, but I had to look away.’