Florida man dies after winning roach-eating contest

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - A West Palm Beach man is dead after taking part in a cockroach eating contest Friday.

Broward County Sheriff's Office deputies say Edward Archbold, 32, ate dozens of cockroaches at Ben Siegel Reptiles in Deerfield Beach.

Video of Archbold participating in the roach-eating contest was posted on YouTube Monday night, but it was removed from the site Tuesday afternoon.

Pharaoh Gayles was one of the estimated 20 to 30 people who took part in the contest on Friday night.

"Some of the snakes were pretty expensive. I thought if I could eat the bugs to get one, it'd be a good idea," Gayles explained.

Archbold was a few seats down during the contest.

"We all just stood behind the tanks, they said go, and we all just started eating," Gayles said. "He did a really good job."

Police say at around 11:30 p.m. Friday, they got a call from the store owner that Archbold collapsed.

He ate dozens of cockroaches in his effort to win an $850 snake.

"After he was done he went to go throw up in the bathroom and that was it," Gayles said.

Archbold died at the hospital.

People like Angela Waldman, a customer at the shop on Monday, can't understand what happened.

"I thought oh wow, who would do something like that? People like to do these crazy things all the time, like Fear Factor, " Waldman said.

"I don't see anything wrong with bug-eating. It just happened to be a freak accident," Gayles added.

Ben Siegel Reptiles released the following statement:

"(There were) approximately 20-30 (participants) who were all fine... All... were entirely aware of what they were doing and signed waivers accepting responsibility for participation in this unique and unorthodox contest. The consumption of insects is widely accepted throughout the world, and the insects were... safely and domestically raised in a controlled environment."

Siegel told the Associated Press that he feels "terribly awful," and Archbold did not appear to be sick before the contest.

"He looked like he just wanted to show off and was very nice," Siegel said, adding that Archbold was "the life of the party."

The medical examiner has not ruled a cause of death yet.

"Unless the roaches were contaminated with some bacteria or other pathogens, I don't think that cockroaches would be unsafe to eat," Michael Adams, professor of entomology at the University of California at Riverside, told the Associated Press. Adams added that he has never heard of someone dying after consuming roaches. "Some people do have allergies to roaches," he said, "but there are no toxins in roaches or related insects."

The store owner has hired a lawyer. It's unknown whether the store will face charges at this time.

An investigation is underway.

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