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A Wipeout contestant died, but filming will continue. TBS promised to ‘push contestants … to even greater extremes’

TBS’s revival of Wipeout is currently in production, with hosts John Cena and Nicole Byer, and will continue filming after Thanksgiving even though a man in his 30s died Wednesday after running the show’s obstacle course.

In the show’s defense, this isn’t the first time running its course has ended in death. In 2009, during filming for an ABC season, a man had a stroke and died. Also, the day the new contestant ran the course and died, Wednesday, was the same day 1,925 new deaths from ᴄᴏᴠɪᴅ-19 were reported, and no one seems to care about that.

TMZ, which first reported Wipeout’s new death, said law enforcement “got a cardiac arrest call just before noon Wednesday, and medics on set had already started using a defibrillator on the contestant, who was experiencing chest pains after completing the course.”

The AP reported that a “man in his 30s was declared dead at a hospital shortly before 7 p.m. Wednesday, Los Angeles County coroner’s spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said. The cause of death has not been released, and the man’s name was being withheld until relatives could be notified.”

TBS and Endemol, the show’s production company, both released predictably but still pathetically sparse statements.

TBS: “We are devastated to have learned of his passing and our deepest sympathy goes out to the family.”

Endemol Shine: “We offer our heartfelt condolences to the family and our thoughts are with them at this time.”

Wipeout promised ‘to push contestants … to even greater extremes’

The set of ABC's Wipeout under construction in 2014 at Macmillan Ranch in Humphreys, Calif.
The set of ABC’s Wipeout under construction in 2014 at Macmillan Ranch in Humphreys, Calif. (Photo by William Garrett)

When TBS announced it was reviving Wipeout, it said it “will feature new format twists and elements that will push contestants’ athleticism and willpower to even greater extremes.” It also said the course has been redesigned to be harder:

“Each game has been designed into three rounds and now features a jaw-dropping, three-stage, obstacle course consisting of multiple strategy and decision points designed to further challenge, and wear out, the stamina of the competitors.”

Is that why this contestant died? Or did he die because sometimes people have heart attacks and die, and being bounced around an obstacle course and having his “athleticism and willpower [pushed] to even greater extremes” and stamina worn out had absolutely nothing to do with it?

On the day the contestant died, John Cena tweeted,

“Accountability, owning ones truth, and inspiration (among others) are current popular buzz words. They are easy to say and sound so powerful. As with most trends, many say it, very few face themselves and do the work in hopes for genuine growth. Be the few. Do the work.”

Will Wipeout and TBS hold themselves accountable here? Will they be truthful about what happened? Will we ever hear of this again or will it just be completely ignored?

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  • Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means. Learn more about Andy.

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