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The prize that could be the death of you

FEELING low, looking for 15 minutes of fame? You have just a month left to come up with a spectacular way to end it all, writes Paul McCann. Nominations for the annual Darwin Awards for the individual who "removes themselves from the gene pool in the most spectacular fashion" close on 1 March.

The Internet-run award is named in memory of Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution. The judges are currently tipping David Zaback, 33, from Washington State in the US as the man who has done his species the biggest favour.

No one knows if Mr Zaback was truly suicidal or just stupid, but he is ahead in the voting after deciding to rob a packed gun shop in a state with more licensed concealed weapons and armed militia than any in America.

To compound his folly the would-be gun thief walked past a parked police car on his way into the shop. There is some debate about whether the off- duty policeman or the shop assistant shot him first, but another three customers pulled guns on him anyway.

Because the Darwin Awards are about commemorating those who remove their dumb DNA from the human gene pool the current second-place candidate falls into the category of "alive but sterile". The unnamed man tried to staple up his testicles after getting them caught in machinery at workwhile masturbating.

Last year's winner has also become famous. He was Toronto lawyer Garry Hoy, 39, who tried to demonstrate the strength of his building's windows to visiting students by throwing a shoulder against one of them. He crashed through the window and fell 24 floors to his death.