Woman dies after winning water drinking contest

A Sacramento TV station reports that a woman has died after a radio station (KDND 107.9) held a contest to see who could drink the most water without relieving themselves. The winner was supposed to get a Nintendo Wii ($249 MSRP).

Sadly, the woman who won the contest left and then called in sick to work after telling them “her head was hurting her real bad”. Only a few hours later she was found dead from water intoxication.

The radio station apparently had provided a warning, which was described by another contestant as “if you don’t feel like you can do this, don’t put your health at risk”. The TV station report also mentions a waiver of liability. It does not sound like anyone was given any serious health consultation or recommendation about balance of electrolytes to ensure they were making an informed decision. It’s also not clear if anyone at the station themselves understood the dangers of hyper-hydration.

Sacramento County Sheriff’s Sgt. Tim Curran confirmed Strange’s death Friday, but said there were no immediate grounds to begin an investigation.

According to contest participants, 17 to 20 contestants took part in the competition in a room at KDND’s Madison Avenue studios. The contest broadcast during The End’s Morning Rave program began around 6:15 a.m. as contestants were each handed eight-ounce bottles of water to drink every 15 minutes.

Fellow contestant James Ybarra of Woodland said he met Strange at the event and had no idea of the potential danger of water poisoning.


Ybarra said before the contest, he did not read a liability waiver form handed to him by station personnel before signing it. Ybarra said he was surprised by the physical toll he felt after the contest.

“I was kind of out of it yesterday. I was just drained. I was just going to the bathroom,” Ybarra said. “I wasn’t feeling well and I actually fell asleep. I woke up with a headache (Saturday) morning and then took a couple of aspirins.”

How is someone supposed to know if they are at a proper hydration level? It seems a popular recommendation is to look at the level of color in your urine, the exact measure of health that was forbidden in the contest.

Perhaps this will be filed under psychiatric conditions that lead to death? It certainly does not fit the other “at risk” categories listed by Wikipedia (Infants, Runners, Overexertion and heat stress, Unusual water losses in disease, Iatrogenic water intoxication).

And if you think this is bad, I hear the radio station’s next hot contest will be “Self-Immolation for a Playstation”…

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