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Teen dies after spicy chip challenge; Hoops event in his honor
Harris Wolobah passed away on Sept. 1, 2023. (Courtesy: GoFundMe for Harris Wolobah).

Teen dies after spicy chip challenge; Hoops event in his honor

BOSTON (BVM) – Harris Wolobah was a 14-year-old sophomore basketball player at Doherty Memorial High School (Massachusetts) who died in early September after eating a store-bought spicy tortilla chip associated with the viral “One Chip Challenge.” 

To honor Wolobah and the game he loved, a co-ed basketball workout will be held on Saturday, Sept. 9 at St. Bernard’s Church (near Boston). The cost is $25 per person and all proceeds will go directly to the Wolobah family for funeral expenses. Registration details can be found here. 

“Harris was an exceptional talent, a shining star who possessed an innate passion for the game,” Douglas Hill, Wolobah’s coach from St. Bernard’s, wrote on social media. “His dedication, skill and unwavering spirit serve as an inspiration to all who knew him.”

While Wolobah’s autopsy won’t be completed for several weeks, his family is claiming that the “One Chip Challenge” was his cause of death. 

“On Sept. 1, [Harris Wolobah] passed away unexpectedly at the age of 14 from what we suspect to be complications due to the “One Chip Challenge” (autopsy pending),” wrote Wolobah’s family in a GoFundMe campaign for funeral expenses…. “He was an intelligent, quirky and incredibly talented young man who loved video games and playing basketball.” 

The chips from the “One Chip Challenge” are made by Paqui LLC and the 2023 version contains Naga Viper Pepper as well as Carolina Reaper Pepper – the hottest chili pepper in the world, according to Guinness World Records. The chip contains capsaicin (naturally found in chili peppers) and the compound can cause mouth pain, throat pain or more serious health problems including a heart attack and esophageal damage, according to the National Capital Poison Center. 

Wolobah’s mother told CBS Boston that she picked up Harris from school on Friday, Sept. 1 after the nurse called stating that he ate the spicy tortilla chip and fainted. After getting home, he passed out again and was later pronounced dead at the hospital. Notably, Harris’ family says that he was a healthy basketball player with no underlying conditions and no known allergies.

Although unclear, it appears that Harris Wolobah ate only one chip. Each box contains just one chip, and Harris’ sister told Boston 25 that her brother ate the chip after a friend gave it to him. The box does have disclaimers including, “intended for adult consumption” and to “seek medical assistance should you experience difficulty breathing, fainting or extended nausea.”

The chips (shown here) can still be found in local stores as of Sept. 6. The Paqui brand challenge has been around for several years. Back in 2017, Shaquille O’Neal felt the heat when he tried the chip himself. But, the future of the Paqui brand remains in question until Harris’ official cause of death is revealed. 

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