Death Wish 2007

The passing of former U.S. President Gerald Ford, Bam Bam Bigelow or even Saddam Hussein was a tragedy to some, but to others it was the best news they had heard all year.


You bet.

And in this case, “bet” is the key word.

In our culture that is built around the wonders of instant gratification, money won is always sweeter than money earned. Really, why is the Super Bowl so popular? Some of us love football, absolutely, but mainly the appeal for fair-weather fans derives from the ability to wager on everything from the coin toss to whether Rex Grossman will throw more interceptions than touchdowns (God forbid).

And now, thanks to the internet bringing together competitive people from all geographies and walks of life more than ever before, the ability to actually bet on the death of celebrities or athletes is growing at an astonishing rate as well.

Don’t believe it? Simply google keywords such as “Dead Pool” or “Death Pool” and watch the multiple pages of various sites allowing a person to wager on a famous person expiring populate the computer screen.

So how does a death pool work? It’s quite simple, actually.

At the beginning of every calendar year, participants of ghoul pools are asked to choose ten prominent people whom they believe will die in the coming year. The person who correctly picks the most deaths from their list wins the pool.

Some contests, however, have more elaborate scoring systems. For instance, one British-based pool also awards and subtracts points for the following:

+5 for a basic death +1 unique bonus if you were the only person to select him/her +1 if it was suicide +1 if the celebrity in question was under 50 -1 if the celebrity in question was over 80

Can you see it now? Jennifer Aniston commits suicide after Brad and Angelina adopt a baby from Kazakhstan and name it “Rachel” (in a obvious attempt to mock Aniston’s character name on Friends), and somewhere, someone is jumping for joy because they got those crucial two extra points added to their overall score for Jen taking her own life AND being under 50.

Since most death pools reward players who choose younger celebrities, are there any annual favorites for those whose natural time to pass may still be 50 or 60 years away?

“This varies greatly,” says Steve Vogel of “For awhile it was Robert Downey Jr, but 2006 saw more than a few folks with Courtney Love, and we’d expect a few Lindsay Lohans in 2007.”

So the only question for those considering joining this kind of competition is: Are you willing to put money on, and therefore root for, the demise of a public figure that may have touched the lives of thousands or even millions?

Is the news of say, Nicole Ritchie, passing away at age 25 due to dropping to 54 pounds after not eating for three weeks really something to get giddy over because she was a choice in your death pool for 2007?

It all depends on your moral compass…

Perhaps only more nefarious than taking part in a death pool is actually running one. So the first question asked to such an individual almost anyone would ask is, “What do you say to those who think your pool is immoral and sinful?”

“The main point is that this game is not intended to trivialize death as much as it’s intended to trivialize celebrities and the insane way that we deify them and grant them importance in our lives,” explains Zachariah Love of death pool website “For me, there is a clear distinction between the deaths of friends and loved ones and the deaths of these icons, these personae…these images that we’re being sold.

The images are separate from the people behind them, and when makes fun of Bob Hope, it’s meant to remind you that you don’t know Bob Hope, the person. You know Bob Hope, the image.”

“We’ve been called sick as well as a variety of expletives, but not immoral or evil,” according to Vogel of “If trying to guess what will happen in the future is evil, we’d all better stop playing the lottery too.”

For the pool, Mr. Love (an ironic name for someone organizing a pool based on death) indicates that he has close to 900 entrees for the 2007 pool. The grand prize? $2007.00, of course. As for the prize for last place, he answers without hesitation, “Eternal shame.”

As for, all that is asked of players is a $5.00 donation to maintain the pool, with prizes only being $250.00 for first place and $70.00 for second place. Other pools such as charge $25.00 per entry, while the Rotten Dead Pool ( is free but has 59,280 players to date. Even Howard Stern runs a death pool, with the only players allowed to enter being members of his Wack Pack on his Sirius Radio Show.

Other sites for large death pools include hilarious names such as, and the aptly-titled

Favorites for 2007 had included the aforementioned Ford, but with the 38th President no longer eligible for selection, here is my dubious list of front runners to assume room temperature.

Fidel Castro: The man who knows no term limits has come down with an illness that has made him resemble a cross between Leona Helmsley and E.T. (honestly, have you seen how long his index finger is? Shouldn’t a white light be emanating from it?). Reports of his demise have come and gone in the past, but this time around, the 80-year-old dictator appears to be on his last cigar.

Courtney Love: Another year, another gift from God for the aforementioned Love, who has been in and out of rehab more than Robin Williams (who is also an annual dark horse in death pools). The former lead singer of Hole and wife of now-ineligible death pool selection Kurt Cobain (suicide), has been a perennial favorite to push up daisies since 1994, but seems to disappoint Death Poolers every time.

Michael Moore: If you weighed 300 pounds, was over age 50, rode in limos instead trying the healthier route of bicycles, and overworked your brain trying to come up with new and innovative ways to misinform the public via documentary films, wouldn’t you a prime candidate to become a ghost sometime in the next 12 months too?

Keith Richards: Some death pool participants feel that Richards should not be allowed to be selected only because a pulse may have already stopped ten years ago.

Andy Rooney: (see Keith Richards)

Ariel Sharon: Has been in a coma since December ’05, so those who took the former Israeli Prime Minister in ’06 couldn’t have been pleased. But like the old saying goes, “There’s always next year!”

Osama Bin Laden: Call me an eternal optimist, but all of that subletting of time shares in caves in those Spring Break hotspots along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border has to wear down a guy who has experienced some dicey health problems in the recent past. So if a good ‘ol fashioned case of Avian Flu isn’t enough to help kill everyone’s most desired death pool choice, perhaps a U.S. airstrike, the same kind that took out two of his top associates in 2006 in the form of Abu Masab Al-Zarqawi and Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Osmani will send OBL to his 72 virgins on Fantasy Island.

Tara Reid: Sold her soul to the Devil for accidental stardom nine years ago and achieved such by being one of seven actors from the first two American Pie movies (there apparently have been something like 17 sequels produced) who have achieved absolutely nothing in Tinseltown. A diet is based on vodka, Marlboro Lights and semen should somehow result in doom for the pride of Wyckoff, NJ, but some pools may not allow Reid to be a valid selection only because, as previously mentioned, only actual celebrities can be chosen.

50 Cent: Selecting an angry rapper who regularly finds trouble and has more than a few enemies is always a safe tactic in a death pool.

Mike Tyson: Remarkably, the Saddest Man on the Planet had been out of the news for something like four consecutive days, but was recently arrested for felony drug possession after nearly crashing into a police SUV on December 29. Being hundreds of millions of dollars in debt and no longer having an ear-crunching career to fall back on while being a manic depressant drug abuser can’t be a healthy combination…

Like death and taxes, dead pools are guaranteed to be here to stay.

The final question is, when your number is up, will you end up being turned away from the pearly gates for even being involved in such a perverse pleasure while alive and lucid on Earth?