TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – From alligator attacks to social media fame to fraudulent checks: “Florida Man” did not slow down in 2020.
Florida Man – the alias given to the many males involved in whacky news stories from the Sunshine State over the years – maintained his status as an internet favorite with another year of eye-popping appearances in news headlines.
In a year that many might want to forget, Florida Man kept us entertained, like when he saved a puppy from the jaws of an alligator. And he brightened our spirits, when he helped an elderly woman having a medical episode in her driveway.
Catch up with all that Florida Man has been up to this year.
Florida Man vs. the wild
Florida man survives alligator attack by poking at its eyes. He was left with 65 stitches.
- Mark Johnson, 61, has lived his entire life around alligators. That’s why he was so surprised when one tried to grab him and drag him into a canal behind his southeastern Port St. Lucie home.
- Johnson managed to get the gator to let go of his leg by digging both of his index fingers into the reptile’s eye sockets. Even then, he felt lucky to get away alive.
Once bitten by an alligator, a Florida man gets bit by an 8-foot lemon shark
- Justin Stuller, 38, was on vacation in the Florida Keys with his family when he tangled with an eight-foot lemon shark.
- Stuller looks at the encounter with the lemon shark as just another Florida experience. “It was the best way to have a bad experience,” he said.
Leopard mauls man who paid $150 for ‘full contact experience’ at a backyard zoo
- In a South Florida backyard zoo, a man was mauled by a captive black leopard after he paid $150 for a “full-contact experience” to play with the leopard and take pictures.
- The owners of the licensed animal sanctuary were charged by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission with allowing full contact with an extremely dangerous animal and was cited for maintaining captive wildlife in an unsafe condition.
Florida man gives wife Valentine’s Day gift she will never forget. He named a shark after her.
- Jim Cocci of Viera named a great white shark after his wife, Colleen. He saw the shark on a group charter with Walker’s Dive Charters out of Riviera Beach with 10 other divers. When the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries Shark Research Program checked their database for “known” sharks, this one was unknown and available to name.
A Florida man saved his dog from an alligator’s jaws. The rescue was caught on camera.
- Thanks to a project between the Florida Wildlife Federation and the fStop Foundation called Sharing the Landscape, a camera was placed in Richard Wilbanks’ Estero backyard to document wildlife in the area.
- The camera caught footage of Wilbanks saving his 3-month-old puppy Gunner from an alligator, who has since recovered from a puncture wound.
Florida Man and the law
Florida man buys Porsche with check printed from home computer
- In addition to purchasing a Porsche 911 Turbo from a dealership in Destin, a Florida man also tried to buy Rolex watches in Miramar Beach with a bad check.
- The man told investigators he printed out the cashier’s checks from his home computer and did not get them from his bank.
Feds charge Florida man with fraud for buying a Lamborghini with COVID-19 relief funds
- A Florida man was charged with fraud after receiving $3.9 million in loans from the Paycheck Protection Program to buy himself, among other things, a Lamborghini sports car, authorities said.
- The 29-year-old Miami man was charged with one count of bank fraud, one count of making false statements to a financial institution and one count of engaging in transactions in unlawful proceeds, according to a statement released by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Florida man steals parrot from a pet store by putting the bird in his pocket
Florida man tried to escape cops by stripping naked. Ribeyes fell out of his pants.
- A shoplifting suspect trying to get away from a grocery store stripped naked and steaks tumbled out of his pants, police said.
- Police said the 28-year-old man from DeLand stole four packs of ribeye steaks valued at $41.24.
Florida man attacked a tow truck driver with a pair of nunchucks
- Defending his Kia Spectra from being towed in a Tallahassee parking garage, a Florida man attacked the truck driver with a pair of nunchucks and fled the scene.
Florida man accused of hacking into voter database to change Gov. Ron DeSantis’ address
- A 20-year-old Florida man left Gov. Ron DeSantis stalled while attempting to vote, accused of changing the governor’s address in the state’s voter database.
- Agents said the Naples man also accessed the voter registrations for U.S. Sen. Rick Scott and sports celebrities Michael Jordan and LeBron James, but made no changes.
Naked Florida man jumps from bridge, doesn’t remember the night’s events
- After nakedly walking across the Shalimar bridge, a Florida man jumped into the Garnier Bayou despite a deputy asking him not to. Unharmed and saved by the Niceville Fire Department Marine Unit, the man says he had no recollection of the night.
Cops called over ‘woman screaming for help.’ Turns out it was Florida man’s pet parrot
- “Let me out! Let me out! Ohhh! Ohhh! Ohhh!” That’s what a Florida man’s neighbor heard before calling 911, thinking a woman was in danger.
- When Palm Beach County deputies arrived to investigate, they discovered the cries were from his pet parrot, Rambo.
- The man, cops, and neighbor all had a good laugh.
Florida Man does good
Florida man makes history as first person with Down Syndrome to finish IRONMAN triathlon
- Chris Nikic, a 21-year-old Special Olympics Florida athlete from Maitland, crossed the finish line in 16:46.09.
- The IRONMAN triathlon includes a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride, and a 26.2-mile run totaling 140.6 miles, all to be completed in 17 hours.
- Nikic is the first person with Down Syndrome to finish a full-distance IRONMAN triathlon. He next hopes to qualify for the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games in Orlando.
Florida man helps older woman having a medical episode in her driveway
- City of Pensacola sanitation employee Ronald Booker saw a woman lying halfway out of her car. He stopped and noticed blood.
- The older woman was having a serious medical episode, so Booker called an ambulance. In the meantime, he focused on keeping the woman awake until EMS arrived.
- “Due to Mr. Booker’s vigilance and decision to act, responding paramedics believe he directly saved this woman’s life,” the city shared on Facebook.
Florida man and his pet chicken develop social media fame
- Dave Cox and his pet chicken Sammi live in Niceville, but together they have been surfing in Georgia, snowboarding in Colorado, seen the Mexican border in El Paso, Texas, attended the Kentucky Derby and recently stopped at the Canadian border – Sammi doesn’t have a passport.
- Sammi’s Instagram profile, @sammichicken, has more than 46K followers.
Florida man adopts his 11-year-old grandson
- After nearly a year in foster care, Joelen “Jojo” Hutchison was legally adopted by his grandfather, William Hutchison, and his partner, Leigh Puckett. They fought for two years to adopt him.
- The couple also has custody of Jojo’s 14-year-old brother, Jaylen. Their younger brother was adopted by another family.
- Jojo was one of 18 children in Lee County adopted in November, National Adoption Awareness Month.
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