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Winner of Fla. roach-eating contest choked to death

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By The Miami Herald
Monday, Nov. 26, 2012, 8:12 p.m.

The South Florida man who died after winning a roach-eating contest choked on “anthropod body parts” and his vomit, according to a report released on Monday by the Broward medical examiner.

More than 30 people participated in the Oct. 6 contest to win rare snakes at Ben Siegel Reptiles in Deerfield Beach, but Eddie Archbold, 32, of West Palm Beach was the only one who got sick. From the qualifying round to the grand prize ivory ball python contest, Archbold ate nearly 2 ounces of meal worms, 35 horn worms and a bucketful of discoid roaches.

A video shows Archbold forcing handfuls of the live bugs down his throat, covering his mouth with his hands to keep them from crawling out. He appears to be half-chewing as he swallows, finally pounding on his chest and raising his arms in triumph with bug parts poking out of his mouth.

Bill Kern, a University of Florida entomologist, speculated that it could have been a physical or psychological reaction that made Archbold throw up soon after the contest.

“If he was eating discoids, that's a big insect,” Kern said. “When you bite into it you're going to get a gush of fat bodies, the gut content and the hemolymph — essentially insect blood. As you bite down, that's going to put pressure on the exoskeleton, so when it's ruptured, it's going to squirt.”

Kern also described the legs of discoids as “covered with pretty stout spines” that could irritate the esophagus and stomach.

After Archbold won the contest, he started vomiting outside of the reptile store. He collapsed a few doors down.

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