On 1 February 2016, a story began to circulate on social media that a college student fell into a coma after ingesting two gallons of semen as part of a social media “Swallow Challenge”:
Swallow Challenge? College Student In A Coma After Attempting To Drink 2 Gallons of Semen https://t.co/IGEPpuNSeP
— Empire Herald (@EmpireHerald) February 1, 2016
As is often the case with news hoaxes, the story bounced around a number of unreliable web sites, landing on TMZWorldNews in early May 2016. The identical articles reported that a young woman was in a medically induced coma after doctors found gallons of semen in her stomach:
Reportedly, the young woman was attempting the new “Swallow Challenge” which originated in Japan.
According to reports, Yoshikomitsu read about the “Swallow Challenge” on a popular Japanese blog earlier this week. Yoshikomitsu, 19 is a sophomore at Arizona State University originally from Tempe. She found out more about the challenge after a friend had posted a Vine video showing clips of other girls attempting the challenge … Susan and Karla invited the interested guys over to their off campus apartment in groups of 10. With in 3 days, Yoshikomitsu and Kurosawa were able to get 2 gallons of semen from over 200 guys. After the semen was obtained, they refrigerated it while Yoshikomitsu prepared to make her video.
“Susan made sure she didn’t eat or drink anything for the entire day. We both went into the bathroom where I held the phone to record her doing the challenge. After drinking about 23 glasses full, Susan passed out and that is when I called 911,” said Karla.
The “semen swallowing challenge” has been around for decades in one form or another, usually involving various celebrities getting hospitalized for purportedly ingesting seminal fluid. The story is also medically improbable: the typical human stomach can hold around 32 ounces at any given time, or about a quarter of a gallon, not two gallons. (An attached image of a dorm room appears to have been swiped from a Pinterest account.)
Both TMZWorldNews and Empire Herald are among fake news sites that have no disclaimer notices warning readers that their content is fictional. Hoaxes previously advanced by the latter outlet included a claim about a dog meat restaurant, a racially charged falsehood about a serial killer who purportedly carved “Black Lives Matter” into the skin of his victims, a fabrication about a man committing suicide over the Harriet Tubman $20 bill, and an outlandish (yet false) story about a parent pleasuring herself with a Happy Meal toy in a McDonald’s ball pit.