Accidental self-sterilisation also qualifies; however, the site notes: “Of necessity, the award is usually bestowed posthumously.” The candidate is disqualified, though, if “innocent bystanders”, who might have contributed positively to the gene pool, are killed in the process. The logical problem presented by award winners who may have already reproduced is not addressed in the selection process due to the difficulty of ascertaining if a person has or does not have children; the Darwin Award rules state that the presence of offspring does not disqualify a nominee.The project became more formalized with the creation of a website in 1993, and followed up by a series of books starting in 2000, authored by Wendy Northcutt. The criterion for the awards states, “In the spirit of Charles Darwin, the Darwin Awards commemorate individuals who protect our gene pool by making the ultimate sacrifice of their own lives. Darwin Award winners eliminate themselves in an extraordinarily idiotic manner, thereby improving our species’ chances of long-term survival.”
People who have somehow miraculously survived their suicidal idiocy can be given an “Honourable Mention” if their attempted act of self removal is deemed worthy (and humorous), i.e. they tried their best.
The Darwin Awards books state that an attempt is made to disallow known urban legends from the awards, but some older “winners” have been “grandfathered” to keep their awards. The Darwin Awards site does try to verify all submitted stories, but many similar sites, and the vast number of circulating “Darwin awards” emails, are largely fictional.
[From Wikipedia] The account of the JATO Rocket Car was one of the original Darwin Awards winners: a man who supposedly met his death in a spectacular manner after mounting a JATO unit (a rocket engine used to help heavy aircraft to take off) onto an ordinary automobile. It was originally circulated as a forwarded email.
In 1996, after numerous inquires, the Arizona Department of Public Safety issued a news release posted on their website concerning the story. It termed the story “an Arizona myth.”