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Tomoaki Hamatsu is a Japanese comedian known for trying to live for over a year on mail-in contest winnings on the show Susunu! Denpa Shonen.

Wikipedia says that he set a world record for living on contest winnings:

After spending 335 days to reach his target, he set the Guinness world record for the "longest time survived on competition winnings."

Many websites also say he did not receive any food for two weeks, until he won some. For example:

By the time the first episode airs, Nasubi has been holed up for 2 weeks with no food. Finally, there's a knock at the door—it's a guy delivering ramen. Thank God!

I am skeptical of this. Reality shows are frequently faked to some degree or another. And, although Susunu! Denpa Shonen was known for its cruelty, would it really deprive him of food for over two weeks? Further, he never seems to have received any wearable clothing, which seems like it might have been intended to preserve the gimmick of him being naked.

Did he really survive for over a year on contest winnings alone?

  • I think the term "contest winnings" has to be defined better in the question, since I'm guessing it is very narrowly defined (contest winnings = mail in rebates, in USA terms? Or maybe free mail-in product offers?). Someone who won on a game show like "Who wants to be a millionaire" would obviously be able to live more than a year on contest winnings. – PoloHoleSet May 31 '17 at 14:45
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NPR investigated this and found that he was given bread until he actually won food.

(Nasubi's testimony) The staff got together and would give me basically a very simple little bread each day, so I had bread and water essentially for the first two weeks. But then as soon as the results started to come in, then that stopped and everything shifted over entirely to things that I could win through sweepstakes.

He also really did have to eat dog food until he was able to win more rice.

After, let's say, six weeks of eating dog food, when I was able to get more rice and it arrived, I really felt a special kind of joy at being able to sort of return to humanity in a sense and taste delicious rice again every day.

And he really was forced to do the same thing in South Korea. You can see a few videos of this online. The TV show that this appeared on was known for pressing its actors to human limits.

The NPR announcer judges this as cruel and inhumane treatment, and goes after the program's director, virtually accusing him of torture. I am skeptical of NPR's take and wrote a blog post about it.

  • What about the clothing? Is there any evidence that he might have won useful clothing (or other things) that might have detracted from the story? – Obie 2.0 May 29 '17 at 18:12
  • I don't see that in any article, but reasonably speaking, I don't think there are that many sweepstakes out there where you win an article of clothing. Rice is a common award in sweepstakes, in Japan at least. – Avery May 29 '17 at 22:31

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