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The Darwin Awards

DARWIN AWARDS celebrate Charles Darwin's theory of evolution by commemorating the remains of the individuals who contributed to the improvement of our gene pool by removing themselves from it in a really stupid way.

DARWIN AWARDS HEALTH ALERT! Stories from our archive illustrate six dangers to male health from a Darwin Perspective:

  1. The number one way that men risk their health is to engage in sexual practices with dangerous objects. With toys like vacuum cleaners, cow hearts, and virgins with gun-totin' grannies. Exercise discretion, gentlemen!

    LOVE FROM THE HEART Unconfirmed by Darwin

    (Tennessee 1998) A teenage Knoxville boy read in an adult magazine that you could hook a cow heart up to a battery and create an organic sex toy. Thinking to improve on the original model, he hooked it up to the household current, electrocuting himself and setting fire to his house.

  2. The number two way to guarantee injury is to show off for friends. Little larks like swallowing goldfish, kissing a snake, or spitting off a balcony on a dare. Try to remember that stupid is not cool, guys.

    GUY GULPS GOLDFISH Confirmed True by Darwin

    Hungry or just plain stupid? January 29, 1998, was a fateful day for Bryan. He was shooting the breeze with a group of men, watching a friend clean his fish tank. Alcoholic beverages may have been present. The friend complained that one fish in particular had become a menace. It had outgrown the tank and was eating other specimens.

    Egged on by a dare, Bryan, who had swallowed smaller fish before, volunteered to assist. He seized the 5-inch fish and attempted to swallow it. Unfortunately, it stuck in his throat. As Bryan gasped futilely for breath, turned blue, and sank to his knees, his three friends realized that something was amiss. They contacted 911 and informed the dispatcher that Bryan had eaten some fish, and was having trouble breathing. Paramedics were quickly dispatched. They arrived to find the fish tail still protruding from the victim's mouth. Despite their best efforts, the 23-year-old could not be resuscitated. The killer fish had claimed one last victim.

    Although the friends did not attempt the Heimlich maneuver or administer CPR, Akron, Ohio police said it was unlikely that murder charges would be filed. "If I dare you to jump off a bridge and you do it, you're stupid," police Maj. Mike Matulavich said.

    Apparently Bryan was not a victim of homicide, he was just a Darwin Awards contender.

  3. The number three way to sustain damage is to lose your wits over a woman. Pleading your love with a chainsaw, fighting with her in the car, or solving an argument using brute force all can get you hurt. Women prefer a cooler head, so give these up!

    WIFE TOSSING IN BUENOS AIRES Confirmed True by Darwin

    (Buenos Aires 1998) Did he win the argument? It happened in February 1998 in a working-class Boedo neighborhood. During a heated marital dispute, a 25-year-old man picked up his 20-year-old wife and threw her off their eighth-floor apartment balcony.

    To his dismay, she became tangled in the power lines below. He immediately leapt from the balcony and fell towards his wife. We can only speculate as to his reasons. Was he angrily trying to finish the job, or was he remorsefully hoping to rescue her? He did not accomplish either goal. He missed the power lines completely, and plunged to his death.

    The woman managed to swing over to a nearby balcony and was saved. (18 May 1999, Panama City) In a similar story, a Dominican woman exacted her dying revenge on her boyfriend, who tossed her off their third-floor balcony, by dragging him down with her. Sandra, 32, was killed instantly in the fall. Her boyfriend, Peter, was rushed to a nearby hospital in serious condition.

    According to neighbors, the confrontation occurred early Tuesday morning after Peter, 30, discovered Sandra in a local bar. The two returned to their apartment and exchanged harsh words, which culminated in the fateful plunge.

  4. The number four way to destroy your health is to be a sexual voyeur, like this Tampuchea Prison warden.

    PEEPER PLUMMETS Confirmed True by Darwin

    (Mexico 1999) A Mexican jail guard died from an excess of zeal while supervising an inmate's conjugal visit. The warden was closely watching his charge from the roof of the prison when he tripped over an air vent, crashed through the skylight, and fell 23 feet to land beside the bed where the inmate and his wife were, against all odds, enjoying an intimate moment. The interrupted prisoner, offended by the intrusion, attempted to start a riot, but was squelched by prison security.

    Prisoners in the Tapachula facility reported that the warden was in the habit of prowling the prison roof during conjugal visits, in search of prisoners to supervise. Local law enforcement reported that the guard was clutching a pornographic magazine, which was retained as evidence, and binoculars, whose sentimental value led to them being given back to the family of the deceased.

  5. The number five dangerous lifestyle habit is to live on the wrong side of the law. Stealing cars, stealing tires, and stealing trailers are not ways to stay healthy.

    MODUS OPERANDI MISFIRES Confirmed True by Darwin

    (Pennsylvania 1998) David, 28, was a considerate car thief. When the stolen cars became hot, he didn't just abandon them, he torched them. Setting the cars on fire, he reasoned, helped the owners collect insurance on their vehicles.

    This criminal habit became his downfall. After a 10-year career of theft, David burned to death in Pittsburgh in a van which he had set fire to from the inside. He hadn't realized that the door handle on the driver's side was broken. Friends tried to release him, but the door was locked. His burned body was found inside the van on Sunday.

  6. And the sixth most common way to ruin your health is to die while working, like Manhole Man and the Smoking Bomb Squad.

    HARD WORK REWARDS Confirmed True by Darwin

    (Georgia 1999) George of Forest Park, a 46 year old plumber seeking employment, used shovels to remove a manhole cover on a street and entered the aperture. In George's haste to identify the source of a sewer blockage, he neglected to set orange warning cones. Upon exiting the manhole, he was struck by the undercarriage of an oncoming car, and was killed.