The winner of a cockroach-eating contest in South Florida died shortly after downing dozens of the live bugs as well as worms, authorities said on Monday.
About 30 contestants ate the insects during Friday night’s contest at a reptile store about 64km north of Miami. The grand prize was a python.
Edward Archbold, 32, became ill shortly after the contest ended and collapsed in front of the store, according to a Broward Sheriff’s Office statement released on Monday. He was taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Authorities were waiting for results of an autopsy to determine a cause of death.
“Unless the roaches were contaminated with some bacteria or other pathogens, I don’t think that cockroaches would be unsafe to eat,” said Michael Adams, professor of entomology at the University of California at Riverside, who added that he has never heard of someone dying after consuming cockroaches.
“Some people do have allergies to roaches,” he said, “but there are no toxins in roaches or related insects.”
“We feel terribly awful,” said store owner Ben Siegel, who added that Archbold did not appear to be sick before the contest.
“He looked like he just wanted to show off and was very nice,” Siegel said, adding that Archbold was “the life of the party.”
Siegel said Archbold had been planning to sell his exotic prize to a friend.
A statement from Siegel’s attorney said all the participants signed waivers “accepting responsibility for their participation in this unique and unorthodox contest.”