Edward Archbold was, according to those who met him on Friday night, the life of the party – a bit of a showoff who was up for anything, even a giant cockroach-eating contest.
He won. And then, tragically, he died.
Now police from Deerfield Beach, Fla., about 40 miles north of Miami, are investigating the death of the 32-year-old, who on Facebook went by Edward William Barry.
According to the Broward Sheriff’s Office, Archbold, of West Palm Beach, and several other contestants signed up to eat a variety of insects at Ben Siegel Reptiles in Deerfield Beach. After eating dozens of giant cockroaches, Archbold was declared the winner of an ivory-ball python. (The prizes, Archbold indicated on his Facebook page that night, were less significant than the glory.)
He had also entered a superworm-eating contest earlier in the night.
But after winning, Archbold felt sick and started vomiting. He then collapsed in the store and was later pronounced dead. The medical examiner’s office is conducting tests to determine a cause of death, according to the sheriff’s office statement.
On Facebook, Ben Siegel Reptiles wrote that staff met Archbold the night of the Midnight Madness sale: “We all liked him right away. All of us here at Ben Siegel Reptiles are sad that we will not get to know Eddie better, for in the short time we knew him, he was very well liked by all.”
In the comments beneath the statement, the reptile store wrote that the prize “now belongs to his estate.”
In another Facebook comment, an attorney claiming to represent Ben Siegel Reptiles wrote that contest participants had signed waivers accepting their participation in this “unique and unorthodox contest.”
“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,” wrote attorney Luke Lirot.
No other contestants felt sick, the Broward Sheriff’s Office said.
And Archbold seemed to be doing all right earlier in the night, according to his own account on Facebook. He took photos of the superworms and wrote: ” Also side note im NOW in a super worm eating comp now…….what ever the hell a super worm is?”
Eating the bugs yielded valuable rewards, according to the store’s Facebook page: “Eat the most bugs in 4 minutes, win the ball morph. That’s it. Oh yeah, any vomiting is an automatic DQ,” the advertisement stated. “Eat the most crickets, win a male lesser. Eat the most superworms, win a female orange belly. Eat the most discoid roaches, win a female graphite sired ivory!”
Michael Adams, a professor of entomology at the University of California, Riverside, told The Associated Press that he has never heard of someone dying after eating roaches.
“Unless the roaches were contaminated with some bacteria or other pathogens, I don’t think that cockroaches would be unsafe to eat,” Adams said. “Some people do have allergies to roaches but there are no toxins in roaches or related insects.”
Meanwhile, Archbold’s friends took to his Facebook page to remember him. Wrote one: “This goes out to one of the most funnest, craziest, and most energetic person I have ever met!!! I will never ever forget u Eddie… I don’t think anyone could!!”
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