The family of a California woman who died trying to win a Wii in a radio contest has been awarded $16.5 million in its suit against the station, according to the Associated Press.
When the Wii debuted in November of 2006, demand for the system far outstripped supplies, leading some people to go to extremes to get their hands on one. One such person, Jennifer Strange of Rancho Cordova, California, entered a January 2007 "Hold Your Wee for a Wii" radio contest with the system as a grand prize.
After drinking an estimated two gallons of water without urinating or vomiting, the 28-year-old mother of three told a colleague that she felt sick and had a "really bad" headache. She was later found dead in her suburban home, apparently from water intoxication. Drinking excess amounts of water causes the problem of too little sodium in the body (hyponatremia) and can cause swelling of the brain, vomiting, headaches, seizures, coma, and, in extreme cases, death.
In the wake of Strange's death, the Sacramento Bee reported that the radio station DJs joked during the contest about people dying of water intoxication, going so far as to say, "Maybe we should have researched this." A listener to the show also called in to warn about the dangers of water intoxication, which the show hosts dismissed, saying it was OK because the contestants signed releases.
The station fired 10 employees after the contest, and the Sacramento County District Attorney's office decided not to press criminal charges in the matter.