'Neknomination': Deadly online drinking craze cleans up its act

The lethal 'game' has claimed several lives, but now some nominees prefer doing good to behaving badly

Standing in front of a camera in his kitchen, 22-year-old Oakley opens a bottle of sambuca, fills a pint glass almost to the top and pours in a dash of WKD Irn Bru. In less than nine seconds he has swallowed the lot. Choking slightly, he points at the lens and reels off three friends' names to take up the challenge, saying: "You've got 24 hours, lads. Get it done."

Oakley is one of thousands of Britons who have taken part in neknomination, an online drinking craze that has escalated to lethal levels as its young participants try ever more hazardous stunts.

Just hours before Oakley uploaded his video last Sunday evening, the body of Jonny Byrne, 19, was discovered in the river at Milford Bridge in Co Carlow after he jumped in as part of a "nomination". Ross Cummins, 22, died in hospital after being found unconscious at home in Dublin. He is understood to have been drinking spirits at the time and had previously taken part in the game. (Neither death had any connection to Oakley.)

The craze is believed to have started between college friends in Western Australia, before spreading across the world. What began as drinking just a pint of beer or a shot for the camera and nominating a friend to do the same has escalated into more and more outlandish videos.

A Durham woman rides a horse into a local supermarket for her neknomination A Durham woman rides a horse into a local supermarket for her neknomination Oakley, who does not want his surname published, thinks the game is still fine if people know their limits – though these limits do not apparently preclude drinking a pint of 42 per cent spirits. "Some people take this stuff too far," he said. "I did drink quite a lot of sambuca, which is a strong alcohol, but I did it in the safety of my own home. It was an awful lot, though. I poured way more than I meant to but I'd broken the seal of the bottle, so I couldn't start again."

Oakley, who has his own YouTube channel called Oakelfish, has had his drinking binge viewed by more than 27,000 people. "There are people like myself who are doing it for a laugh, but there are also people doing it with something to prove.

"Now it looks really stupid and not fun at all because people have died from it."

For Eric Appleby, chief executive of Alcohol Concern, some are already taking things too far. He said: "This lethal 'game' shows just how hard we have to work to de-normalise binge drinking among young people. But it's not just about young people: they take their cues from society's attitude to drinking, and it's this we have to change for all our sakes."

Others have found different ways to shock. Johnnie, a 26-year-old tutor, filmed his friend dressed as a sheikh drink down a pint of beer in a Muslim area of Coventry and strip off in the road. "We've taken it down now," he says sheepishly of the YouTube clip. "Looking back, it probably wasn't the most intelligent thing to do."

Since the deaths, many people have pledged to remove their videos from the internet. One neknominate Facebook group has even been changed to an alcohol-awareness page. But Johnnie thinks such measures are too heavy-handed: "I think these pledges to get videos taken down are silly. If you're going to jump into a canal or a lake after a drink, there's a chance you might die.

"If you down a litre of spirits, there's a chance you might die, but if you're just having fun with it I don't see the problem."

Brent Lindeque feeds a homeless man instead Brent Lindeque feeds a homeless man instead A more imaginative backlash against the drinking culture encouraged by the game was started by South African Brent Lindeque. Having received a neknomination, he posted a video of himself handing out a packed lunch to a homeless man from his car, and it went viral.

Allan Price, a friend of Mr Lindeque's who now lives in London, decided to bring the idea to Britain. Mr Price, 34, filmed himself distributing 10 £10 notes across the capital. Each was in a plastic bag with a piece of paper instructing its finder to spend it on a good deed.

Mr Price said: "I was nominated by my cousin who was already drunk when he did four shots and a tumbler of spirits for his neknomination. I wanted to do something cooler.

"It's not as if I can afford £100, but doing something that helped people felt really awesome."


Life and Style
“What is it like being a girl?” was the question on the lips of one inquisitive Reddit user this week
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
Life and Style
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
world cup 2014Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
Arts and Entertainment
A still from the worldwide Dawn of the Planet of the Apes trailer debut
peopleMario Balotelli poses with 'shotgun' in controversial Instagram pic
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Javier Mascherano of Argentina tackles Arjen Robben of the Netherlands as he attempts a shot
world cup 2014
Arts and Entertainment
The successful ITV drama Broadchurch starring David Tenant and Olivia Coleman came to an end tonight
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
Arts and Entertainment
Balaban is indirectly responsible for the existence of Downton Abbey, having first discovered Julian Fellowes' talents as a screenwriter
tvCast members told to lose weight after snacking on set
Life and Style
More than half of young adults have engaged in 'unwanted but consensual sexting with a committed partner,' according to research
Life and Style
A binge is classed as four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, consumed over a roughly two-hour period
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    JavaScript Developer (Angular, Web Forms, HTML5, Ext JS,CSS3)

    £40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: JavaScript Dev...


    £50000 - £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Consultant (Fina...

    SAP Data Migration Consultant

    competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client, a FTSE 100 organisation are u...

    Programme Support, Coms, Bristol, £300-350p/d

    £300 - £350 per day + competitive: Orgtel: My client, a leading bank, is curre...

    Day In a Page

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
    Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

    A writer spends a night on the streets

    Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
    Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
    Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

    Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

    Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
    Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

    Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

    This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
    Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

    Why did we stop eating whelks?

    Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
    10 best women's sunglasses

    In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

    From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
    Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    The German people demand an end to the fighting
    New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

    New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

    For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
    Can scientists save the world's sea life from

    Can scientists save our sea life?

    By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
    Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

    Richard III review

    Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice