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Eating contests that ended in tragedy – from pancake choking to cockroach death

4 min read

Eating contests may seem like a bit of fun, but they can actually end in tragedy.

Over the years, various competitors have lost their lives by attempting to speed eat various delicacies – from pancakes to cockroaches.

Here, we take a look at how the "sport" can actually be an extreme one.

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Pancakes tragedy

University sorority girl Caitlin Nelson, 20, of Clark, New Jersey died after she choked at a pancake-eating competition in 2017.

The student sadly passed away at the Columbia University Medical Centre in New York three days after the charity contest began.

After Caitlyn, who was vice president of her sorority, ate four or five pancakes she crashed to the floor and started to shake uncontrollably as witnesses looked on.

Two nursing students who were in the crowd immediately implemented lifesaving measures where they were quickly joined by paramedics and police officers.

But unfortunately, Caitlyn could not be saved.

Fairfield Police Lt. Bob Kalamaras said Caitlyn suffered from food allergies, although that was not the reason for her passing.

L.t Kalamaras said: "You have a family hat lost their very young and very vibrant daughter, and you have the Sacred Heart University community that lost one of their students. It's just a tragic accident."

Her mum, Rosanne Nelson, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the university but later withdrew it after a settlement was eventually reached.

William Bloss, a lawyer for the family confirmed the case was resolved, however, did not provide any further details on the matter, CBS News reports.

Another pancake 'all you can eat' related death horrified crowds in Russia back in 2012.

Boris Isayev, 48, from Russia, dropped dead after winning the competition that saw him swallow 43 of the cream and banana stuffed desserts.

He fell to his knees on stage after entering the contest to celebrate the final day in 'Pancake Week' – also known Maslenitsa, or Shrovetide – to mark the end of winter.

Despite the best efforts of the crowd, Boris was unable to be revived and died on stage.

Although his cause of death was not completely clear, doctors came to the conclusion that he choked after the stodgy dessert got caught in his throat.

Doughnuts disaster

Travis Malouff, 42, choked to death on a half-pound doughnut at a charity eating contest in 2017.

The sugary treat that weighed the same as six regular sized doughnuts caused the competitive eater's airways to become blocked.

Although paramedics rushed to the event at Voodoo Doughnut in Denver, Colorado, they sadly could not save Travis.

The Denver Office of the Medical Examiner announced "asphyxia, due to obstruction of the airway" as the official cause of the death.

He took part in the 'Tex-Ass Challenge' which gives competitive eaters the task of eating the massive $4.50 (£3.77) doughnut in just 80 seconds.

Voodoo Doughnuts launched an investigation in light of Travis' death.

Pickled egg cardiac arrest

Back in 2014, dad-of-two Gary Sims, 55, died when he scoffed three pickled eggs in a challenge with his mate at the pub.

The former royal marine suffered a cardiac arrest when he tasked his mate to see who could eat the bar snack the quickest.

Gary purchased six of the eggs at The Boar's Head Inn in Berkeley, Gloucestershire to race a pal in the friendly competition.

The dad attempted to wash them down with his pint, but his eyes rolled back into his head and he began to choke.

Gary – known as Joe to pals – was given the Heimlich manoeuvre while the emergency crew made their way to the scene.

Despite the best efforts from paramedics, he was pronounced dead in the back of the ambulance outside of the pub.

The coroner's verdict came to the conclusion that Gary's death was accidental after he suffered a hypoxic injury caused by a shortage of oxygen in the brain, this unfortunately made it swell.

Coroner Katy Skerrett said: “While drinking he entered a friendly competition or challenge with another drinker as to who could eat the pickled eggs the quickest.

“He started to choke and despite the efforts of his colleagues and paramedics, they could not save him.”

Cockroaches contest

Dad-of-two Edward Archbold, 32, entered a cockroach eating competition in attempt to win a python – but tragically choked to death.

The competitive eater, from Florida, US, signed up for the Midnight Madness bug-eating competition at Ben Siegel Reptile Store in Deerfield Beach where he consumed a cocktail of different critters.

He munched on a mix of 60g of worms, 35 three-inch-long 'super worms' and a huge bucket full of cockroaches – some even attempted to crawl out of his mouth.

However, he became ill within minutes of completing the challenge that he entered so he could gift the $850 (£720) ivory ball python to his mate.

Edward started to vomit and then collapsed in front of the store before being rushed to hospital where he was later pronounced dead.

According to the report issued by the Broward County medical examiner's office, the dad-of-two's death was due to 'asphyxia due to choking and aspiration of gastric contents.'

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