Jennifer Lea Strange of Rancho Cordova, CA entered a contest sponsored by station KDND to win a hot-selling Nintendo Wii game console for her three children. The contest–called “Hold your wee for a Wii”–required contestants to drink quantities of water to see who could go the longest without urinating. After drinking about two gallons of water, according to witnesses, Strange gave up and finished second, winning tickets to a Justin Timberlake concert. She was found dead a few hours later of water intoxication, according to the preliminary autopsy. During the contest a caller warned the DJs of the risk of death from drinking too much water. “Yeah, we’re aware of that,” said one, and another added with a laugh “Yeah, they signed releases, so we’re not responsible. We’re OK.” Speaking of Strange’s distended belly a DJ said “”Oh, my gosh, look at that belly. That’s full of water. … Come on over, Jennifer, you OK? . . . You going to pass out right now? Too much water?”
Sacramento lawyer personal injury lawyer Roger Dreyer, whom Strange’s family retained to represent them in a wrongful death lawsuit, said the contest was a “negligent act of premeditated recklessness.” KDND fired ten people, including three morning DJs, and announced an investigation into Strange’s death. Responding to Dreyer’s request to pull the station’s operating license the Federal Communications Commission announced that it will conduct its own investigation into Strange’s death. The Sacramento Sheriff’s Office is investigating possible criminal charges.
This whole affair is just depressing: people willing to undergo extreme physical discomfort to win a $250 game console; a radio station making sport of these people for marketing purposes; KDND employees either failing to investigate the possible risks, or just ignoring them; a contestant who goes beyond what her body can take, and dies; everything about this is wrong, wrong, wrong. These accounts coincided with a post I read recently at The Tortellini titled Those Wacky, Tragic Warning Labels; they can be easy to ridicule but some of those product warning labels we make fun of originated in some family’s tragedy.
Cheryl Miller, ‘Hold Your Wee’ Radio Contest Prompts Wrongful Death Suit, The Recorder, 24-Jan-07 (Law.com) (Subscription required); AP, 3 DJs fired after deadly water-drinking contest, MSNBC.com, 17-Jan-07; FCC Head Orders Investigation Into Water Contest, Yahoo!.com, 25-Jan-07; Tape: Disc jockeys joke about water contest risk, CNN.com,