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Reaction to Death at Bug-Eating Contest Varies

Posted: Oct. 10, 2012, 8:00 p.m. EDT


Customers and reptile owners stepped up to defend a Deerfield Beach, Fla., pet store after the death of a man who had eaten dozens of roaches and worms during a “Midnight Madness” contest.

Edward Archbold, 32, of West Palm Beach, Fla., had won the grand prize, an ivory ball python, before he began throwing up and collapsed Friday outside Ben Siegal Reptiles, the Broward County Sheriff's Office reported.

Archbold was pronounced dead at a hospital, and the cause of his death remains under investigation.

No other contestants were sickened, the sheriff’s office added.

Cockroach eating contest ends in death
News of the contest and Archbold’s death generated hundreds of comments on the store’s Facebook page.

One poster called store owner Ben Siegal’s sponsorship of the contest “very foolish, and negligently so.”

“I hope they will be held accountable both civilly and criminally,” the user stated.

Another person called the death a case of “negligent homicide,” while a third stated: “Who thought of this contest? Just because something can be done doesn’t mean it should be done.”

The vast majority of Facebook visitors supported the contest and Siegel.

“People chose to participate willingly, including this man,” one wrote. “These were adults making the decision to complete a task in good fun while trying to win something they found worth it.”

“It was just a freak accident,” another stated. “Like so many said before, people eat bugs every day.”

One person claimed to have known Archbold.

“I can guarantee that in no way would he have approved of all this negativity,” she wrote. “He was psyched about this competition. I know because my husband spoke to him after the qualifying round, and he was roaring to go.”

The store posted only a few brief messages about the death, with one stating: “Our thoughts and prayers go out to Eddie’s family in this terrible time. Although we just met Eddie the night of the sale, we all liked him right away.”

Siegal referred media questions to his attorney, Luke Lirot of Clearwater, Fla.

“All participants in the contest were entirely aware of what they were doing and…signed thorough waivers,” Lirot wrote on Facebook. “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.

“Mr. Siegel and his staff send out their deepest sympathy to the family.”

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