Contender contestant kills himself; Mark Burnett: “Nothing changes” with the show.

Contender contestant kills himself; Mark Burnett: “Nothing changes” with the show.
A 23-year-old boxer who will be featured on NBC’s The Contender killed himself yesterday. With his girlfriend next to him, Najai “Nitro” Turpin “fatally shot himself in the head early yesterday while sitting in a parked car in West Philadelphia,” according to the Philadelphia Daily News.

Although Turpn is one of the 16 featured boxers on the show, Mark Burnett told the New York Times that his death doesn’t affect the series at all: “Nothing changes. I’m not even going to make any edits because it’s real.”

Turpin’s manager told the New York Daily News that Najai “had a lot of stuff on his mind. … You never really knew what was going on in Najal’s head. I know he wanted to get back to fighting. With ‘The Contenders’ thing he hadn’t fought in over a year. That bothered him, but I can’t say that was the only thing that was bothering him.”

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In its third episode, Survivor San Juan Del Sur improved significantly as John Rocker faced off against an Amazing Race villain. But the Exile Island reward challenge remains a drag on the series.

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Dick Donato

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.