Contender Contestant Nitro Commits Suicide
A contestant in “The Contender” a new NBC reality series about boxing scheduled to start next month, committed suicide yesterday in Philadelphia, network executives said last night. NBC executives said that the show would go on as planned, starting March 7. The contestant, Najai Turpin, 23, a middleweight boxer from Philadelphia who was known as Nitro, took his life, NBC executives said. They offered no other details about the suicide, though they said they thought it had nothing to do with events on the television show.
“The Contender” chronicles not only the boxers’ efforts to win the television tournament, which carries a prize of $1 million, but follows their personal lives, including their relationships with spouses and children. Mr. Turpin’s girlfriend also appears in the series, NBC said.
Except for a planned live championship, set to take place in May, all the bouts in the “The Contender” have been completed and are on tape. Because the show, like all other reality shows, depends on the suspense of not knowing the outcome of each week’s episode, no results of the bouts have been released.
NBC executives said they were saddened by the news and were setting up a fund to help Mr. Turpin’s family. But they said they were convinced the network would be able to broadcast the show as planned. Mark Burnett, the show’s executive producer, said: “Nothing changes. I’m not even going to make any edits because it’s real.” Mr. Burnett said that at some point, the series will make a mention of Mr. Turpin’s death, probably in an onscreen message at the end of an episode.
A little too much reality for my tastes.