Eating Competitions Killed Two People This Past Weekend

Choking is the fourth-leading cause of unintentional injury death—and it happens with disturbing frequency at competitive eating events.
April 5, 2017, 6:15am
Photo via Flickr user PaulSteinJC.

This article originally appeared at VICE US

Eating competitions are an American institution, but can we all finally agree that they are pretty damn dangerous?

This past weekend, two tragic and needless competitive-eating-related deaths occurred within 24 hours of each other. A 20-year-old college student and a 42-year-old Colorado man died in separate choking incidents tied to eating competitions: one involving pancakes; the other, doughnuts.

Caitlin Nelson was a student at Sacred Heart University in Connecticut who died Sunday after participating in a Greek-life-sponsored eating contest. She was said to have eaten four or five pancakes when she stopped breathing. Caitlin was said to have multiple food allergies, although it's not clear whether they contributed to her choking. To make the story even more horrific, Caitlin was the daughter of a Port Authority police officer who died on 9/11.

Earlier that same day, Travis Malouff, 42, collapsed in the lobby of a Voodoo Doughnut in Denver and was declared dead of "asphyxia, due to obstruction of the airway," according to the Denver Office of the Medical Examiner. He had been participating in a donut-eating challenge before he died.

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