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Beer belly wrestling, 'evading arrest' obstacle course on tap for inaugural Florida Man Games

It ain’t the Olympics, but a group of Floridians plan to host competitions themed according to the collective antics of the beer-loving, gator-possessing, rap-sheet heavy, mullet-wearing social media phenomenon known as Florida Man.

Organisers of the “Florida Man Games” describe the competition as “the most insane athletic showdown on Earth”. The games will poke fun at Florida’s reputation for producing strange news stories involving guns, drugs, booze and reptiles – or some combination of the four.

Among the contests planned for next February in St Augustine, Florida, according to organisers, are the Evading Arrest Obstacle Course in which contestants jump over fences and through yards while being chased by real police officers; the Category 5 Cash Grab in which participants try to grab as much money in a wind-blowing booth; and the self-explanatory beer-belly wrestling.

“This isn’t just a competition; it’s a one-of-a-kind Floridian spectacle!” organisers said on the games’ website.

The “Florida Man” concept crept into the nation’s consciousness a decade ago with the @_FloridaMan Twitter account. The account, with the tagline “Real-life stories of the world’s worst superhero”, has been home to headlines such as “Florida Man Fire Bombs Garage That Impounded His Car, Hits His Own Vehicle” and “Florida Man Tried to Pay for McDonald’s With Weed”.

General admission tickets to the event are going for US$45. Two former stars of the 1990s television show American Gladiators have agreed to serve as referees.

A St Augustine resident is behind the games: Pete Melfi, owner of The 904 Now, a media outlet covering St Johns County.

“We thought, ‘How can we really play on these Florida Man headlines that we hear so much about?’ Someone gave me the idea to make it into an athletic competition,” Melfi told the Orlando Sentinel. “It’s going to be a wild day of mud games and Florida-style obstacle courses. It’s going to really be an opportunity to live that Florida Man life for a day.”

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