POSTED: Saturday, October 13, 2012 - 1:00pm
UPDATED: Saturday, October 13, 2012 - 1:04pm
NBC NATIONAL NEWS — The winner of a roach-eating contest sponsored by a Florida reptile store collapsed and later died after eating dozens of the insects and worms.
Edward Archbold, 32, of West Palm Beach, won the contest at the Ben Siegel Reptile Store in Deerfield Beach on Friday.
The grand prize was a python.
Shortly after the contest, Archbold wasn't feeling well and began to regurgitate, authorities said.
He later collapsed in front of the store, and Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue transported him to Broward Health North.
He was later pronounced dead at the hospital, the sheriff's office said in a statement.
"It was quite amazing, because it looked like he hadn't eaten breakfast, lunch or dinner. And the guy definitely wanted to win that snake, at least that's what it looked like to me, at first," witness Mason Kahzam said. "I mean, unless he was really just that hungry. I wasn't sure if he tried eating worms or snakes or what he tried to eat before he ate those cockroaches, but he looked like he knew what he was doing."
Kahzam said that Archbold was grabbing the roaches "a handful at a time."
"I don't even think he was chewing them at one point, he was more or less swallowing them," he said.
According to the sheriff's office, "Several contestants signed up to eat a variety of insects for the chance to win the exotic reptile."
Archbold's body was taken to the Broward Medical Examiner's Office for an autopsy.
Authorities were waiting for the test results to determine a cause of death.
None of the other contest participants had any medical issues after the contest, authorities said.
"Some facts that have come out include the fact that all participants in the contest were entirely aware of what they were doing and that they signed thorough waivers accepting responsibility for their participation in this unique and unorthodox contest," Ben Siegel's attorney, Luke Lirot, said in an email statement. "The consumption of insects is widely accepted throughout the world, and the insects presented as part of the contest were taken from an inventory of insects that are safely and domestically raised in a controlled environment as food for reptiles."
"Once Mr. Archbold showed signs of distress, his companion represented that he had summoned emergency personnel and was going to immediately take him to the hospital. Moments later, Mr. Siegel made an independent call to 911 and Mr. Archbold was administered CPR. Mr. Siegel and his staff did all that anyone could to try and help Mr. Archbold, and they send out their deepest sympathy to the family," the statement said.
BSO spokeswoman Keyla Concepcion said "no one has believed" the baffling story of what happened to Archbold.
"Everyone thinks that it's some sort of bizarre joke, but no, it's the truth and sometimes truth is just stranger than fiction," she said.