I've got some big news. Lou Ferrigno, better known as TV's Incredible Hulk, isn't dead.
Normally, people don't make the news for being alive. But earlier today, Ferrigno became the latest victim of a celebrity death hoax when a fake USA Today article surfaced claiming he'd been killed in a car crash. Despite the incredibly amateurish look of the article, and the fact that it contained a disclaimer stating "This site is not associated with USA Today," the story made the rounds on Facebook and Twitter before Lou eventually posted a video proving he was still alive.
What drives a person to start a celebrity death hoax? More importantly, what drives a person to choose Lou Ferrigno? As much as you may like the guy, he's not exactly what you would call an A-Lister. But that right there is the genius of it. If these pranksters had chosen George Clooney, people would have been more skeptical. But because they chose a lower profile actor, the Internet was much more willing to believe it without digging deeper.
With that in mind, let's take a look at the weirdest celebrity death hoaxes of 2014 (so far).
It's not uncommon to hear about a rapper getting murdered. So last January, when stories started surfacing about Lil Wayne biting the dust, it didn't seem like that big of a stretch. Throw in the fact that the musician has epilepsy, and it's easy to see why some people fell for the hoax.
But what makes this death hoax so weird is the fact that it's happened numerous times before. Beginning as early as 2008, reports of Wayne's demise have popped up on the web. So while the rapper is currently alive and well, he should probably be a little nervous about the fact that the Internet keeps trying to kill him. (Source)
Now lets focus on another, bigger Wayne.
In March of this year, Seinfeld star Wayne Knight died in a car crash on Route 446 in Pennsylvania. Or at least that's what the Internet wanted us to believe.
Not long after reports of his death began to surface, the actor best known as "Newman" took to Twitter to disprove the rumor.
"Some of you will be glad to hear this, others strangely disappointed, but . . .I am alive and well!," he tweeted. He later returned to add, "Does someone have to DIE to trend? Geez! Thanks for all the love everybody. I didn't know you cared. Glad to be breathing!"
No, Wayne. You don't have to die. A sex tape is also a popular option. (Source)
Chumlee From Pawn Stars
March was a big month for celebrity death hoaxes. Like Wayne Knight, Chumlee from Pawn Stars was falsely reported as having died from a heart attack. While the cause of death was certainly plausible enough, the story was false.
This was the second time the rumor had surfaced since 2013. During the first incident, the rumor was quickly dispelled, but not before elderly Pawn Star fans on Twitter were crushed by the news. Luckily, there are only three elderly people on Twitter, so it wasn't really that big of a deal. (Source)
Jared Fogle (a.k.a. The Subway Diet Guy)
Remember Jared Fogle and the "Subway Diet"? For those of you who don't Fogle gained fame when he lost 245 lbs. with the help of Subway Sandwiches. Then, he lost his life... on Twitter, anyway.
Earlier this month, the hashtag "#RIPSubwayJared" trended despite the fact that Jared is alive and well. Given the fact that this all went down on May 5th, a.k.a. Cinco de Mayo, I wouldn't be surprised if the social media guys over at Taco Bell had one-too-many margaritas and decided to start some shit. (Source)
Shovel Girl (a.k.a. Miranda Fugate)
Just a few weeks ago, Miranda Fugate took the Internet by storm when a video surfaced of her being smacked in the head with a shovel. It didn't take long for the vid to go viral. It also didn't take long for stories of here death to surface. Perhaps the fact that the whole world watched her get smacked in the head added a certain credibility to the rumor. But regardless, Fugate is still very much alive, even if her short career as an Internet celebrity is dead. (Source)