Tragic Details About Man V Food Star Adam Richman

Adam Richman in all-black clothes
Adam Richman in all-black clothes - Sterling Munksgard/Shutterstock

Adam Richman burst onto the culinary entertainment scene in 2008 with Travel Channel's reality television series "Man v. Food." In it, Richman traveled far and wide to bravely take on the best food challenges in the U.S., all while being cheered on by local restaurant-goers. For instance, he once tried (and understandably failed) to devour a 6-pound, 2-foot-long burrito. In another episode, he ate so many oysters (180) that, to this day, it's the one food item that Adam Richman has sworn off.

Thanks to Richman's enthusiasm for food and the extreme lengths he went to display it, the series received the network's highest-ever rating for a new debut. It only had a run of four seasons before Richman stepped down as host (more on that in a bit), but the program's influence can still be seen today in the countless food challenges it inspired around the world. There were a lot of shows that tried to rip off "Man v. Food" but just couldn't replicate its magic. Richman's career skyrocketed during those years, leading to many endorsements, two book deals, and more TV shows.

Of course, life is not always glitz and glamor. There are dark parts too — and Richman's life is no exception. From grieving his father's untimely death to struggling with body image issues and being a victim of fake news, these are the tragic details of Adam Richman's life that you might not have heard about.

Read more: The Biggest Scandals To Ever Hit The Food Network

His Parents Divorced

Adam Richman's parents
Adam Richman's parents - adamrichman/Instagram

Richman values his privacy and he has never really shared much about his personal life, especially the turmoil he experienced in childhood. In a rare occasion though, he did open up about his early life struggles during an interview with The Premium Pete Show.

According to Richman, his parents Jeffrey Mark and Sharon Richman divorced when he was four years old and, to this day, he recalls it clearly. "I remember very real memories of my dad moving out and walking out, and very real memories, of like, going to lawyers and paperwork," he said.

He then recounted how being shared by two divorced parents was confusing. In school, for example, Richman would bring extra clothes on a Friday because he would stay with his dad on weekends. His classmates would then ask why his parents lived apart, unlike other families. Later on, once his parents started dating other people, he felt torn seeing them loving others and not each other. To add another layer of frustration, Richman's mom didn't like it when her new relationship didn't work out but her ex-husband found a new wife. "It's just the plot thickens, and as a kid, it's hard because you want to stay Switzerland," he added. "I want to be loved by both of y'all. I love both of y'all. I don't choose."

His Father Died Early

Adam Richman and his dad
Adam Richman and his dad - adamrichman/Instagram

As private as Adam Richman is with the details of his parents' divorce, he's even more private with the details of his father's untimely death. It's unknown how or when exactly his dad passed away, but what is known is that the tragic event affected him severely. For instance, the loss robbed Richman of future memories with his dad. It also pained Richman to see his mom having to raise him alone. To make ends meet, she worked as a temporary holiday staff member at department stores, in addition to being a guidance counselor.

Despite being away from Adam half of the time because of joint custody, Jeffrey Mark Richman remained a huge influence in his son's life. He could even be credited for molding Adam into a proper foodie. In an interview with InTouch, Adam recounted a story about his father teaching him to respect different cuisines: "My father had a law office near Chinatown, and I'll never forget the day he took me for dim sum. This place had things like chicken feet and I remember going, 'Ick!' My dad immediately shut that down. He said, 'How many things do we eat that these people might not like? It's disrespectful.'"

To celebrate Father's Day 2023, Richman posted a photo of him with his dad on Instagram. The caption read: "Not a day goes by that I don't think of you. Miss you so. Love you, Dad."

He Has Experienced Antisemitism

Adam Richman at the Western Wall
Adam Richman at the Western Wall - adamrichman/Instagram

While he's always been quiet about his personal life, Richman has been open about his faith. He was born into a Jewish family and attended Solomon Schechter for elementary and Talmud Torah for high school. For college, he enrolled at Emory University, which has a strong Jewish community. Richman also knows how to speak Hebrew, in addition to French and Japanese.

Like many who follow his faith, he has experienced antisemitism. In an interview with the Observer, he shared some stories of hostility towards him and his family and friends. "The very first time I experienced antisemitism was on Ocean Avenue after temple ... a lady started shouting at my friends, saying how we should have died in concentration camps," Richman said.

With the advent of social media, there came harassment and online bullying after some of Richman's "Man v. Food" followers found out that he was a Jew. "I've gotten called a k***," he added, talking about the antisemitic slur. "My mom even told me she had to like stop looking at stuff online because she had seen someone who said, 'I wish I knew he was Jewish before I started liking him.'"

Everyone Thought He Was Dead

Adam Richman eating a burger
Adam Richman eating a burger - adamrichman/Instagram

In 2012, all was well for Richman. His show's fourth season continued getting high ratings and he was as popular as ever. It seemed like he was about to make a long career out of food challenges. But then, Richman suddenly stepped down as host (later replaced by Casey Webb in a "Man v. Food" reboot in 2017). The move shocked viewers and left them wondering about the reason behind the departure, with some speculating that the amount of food that Richman consumed at work had caused health problems. Even worse, there was gossip that he had died.

But the real reason Adam Richman left "Man v. Food" wasn't about health concerns. And obviously, it wasn't because he's dead. In an interview with the BBC, he criticized the stories about his resignation as simply malicious in nature. "It was completely fictional ... You have that sort of percentage of sick people who almost wanted to believe that [illness] happened to me," he said.

Still, the spread of fake news continued, and today, it has become a Mandela Effect, the phenomenon wherein many people misremember certain events and details. Over on Reddit, one user swore they thought Richman had died, only to learn that he's fine. "I mean good to see and all but I was absolutely sure he was dead."

He Almost Died During A Food Challenge

Adam Richman eating a chicken wing
Adam Richman eating a chicken wing - TravelChannel/YouTube

With the unhealthy amounts of starches, sugars, and spices that Richman consumed for "Man v. Food," it seemed possible that he might die from a food challenge. In Episode 1 of Season 2, he almost did.

In a 2016 appearance on "Hot Ones," Richman was asked to name the most painful "Man v. Food" food challenge. His answer was the one where he failed to eat 10 Fire in Your Hole chicken wings at the Munchies 4:20 Café in Sarasota, Florida. According to Richman, the sauce was made from a blend of habanero peppers, hot sauce, cayenne, chili powder, crushed red pepper, and ghost chili extract. Instead of just pouring a dab of the ghost chili extract into the sauce like normal, the chef emptied the entire bottle to ensure that Richman would lose.

The effect on the former host was almost criminal. "I was so jacked up in the bathroom of the place that my tongue had swollen, my nasal passages had swollen," Richman told host Sean Evans. It got so bad that he couldn't breathe because his throat had become swollen. To put things in perspective, Richman said that, in India, ghost chili extract is used in police grenades and repellants that are hung on fences to keep wild elephants away. "The reason why I'm mad is not because of my record. I don't give a s*** about that. It's that it's cavalier and dangerous."

He Struggled With Body Image Issues

Adam Richman at a red carpet event
Adam Richman at a red carpet event - s_bukley/Shutterstock

Adam Richman knew from the start that taking on the most epic food challenges for work would severely affect his health. So, to prepare for each episode, he would exercise like a pro athlete, following a strict regimen of leg and back workouts plus plenty of cardio. "I figured that as long as my blood work and heart were good, I was good," he told Men's Health.

But while he was able to burn the calories he consumed during filming, he failed to account for the calories he consumed off-camera. "It wasn't the 2 1/2-pound pastrami sandwiches or the yard-long bratwursts that did me in. It was all the extras. I was logging 15-hour days, sampling food every minute. I had access to these amazing dishes, and it was easy to lose sight of how quickly the bites added up."

Soon, his waistline swelled and he grew depressed about his body. Richman got so conscious of his looks that he asked his cameraman to film him only from certain angles, to which the latter replied that it wasn't possible to do a TV series with the host always facing sideways. Following his exit from the show, Richman shed 70 pounds by following a nutrition plan, going to the gym, and walking 10,000 steps a day. After losing the weight, he posed nude for Cosmopolitan UK in 2014.

He Developed Sleep Apnea

Adam Richman in bed
Adam Richman in bed - adamrichman/Instagram

Though rumors about the negative health effects of "Man v. Food" were overblown, Richman didn't escape completely unscathed. While shooting the show, Richman not only metaphorically lost sleep over his body image but also literally lost sleep from health complications.

In a 2014 interview with the Daily Express, Richman revealed that during his "Man v. Food" stint, he had developed sleep apnea, a serious medical condition in which your breathing stops and starts while you're asleep. If left untreated, the sleep disorder can lead to insomnia, irritability, morning headaches, or worse, heart trouble or high blood pressure. It's rare to die from sleep apnea but it can increase the likelihood of dying from other chronic diseases.

How does one develop sleep apnea? There are many risk factors, but a common cause is weight gain — Richman attributed his sleep apnea to the weight he gained during filming.

His Favorite Chefs Hated His Show

Alton Brown and Anthony Bourdain at red carpet events
Alton Brown and Anthony Bourdain at red carpet events - Kathy Hutchins & Kathy Hutchins/Shutterstock

The moment it aired, everyone loved "Man v. Food," as evidenced by its high ratings. That is, all except for two people who Adam Richman looked up to: Alton Brown and Anthony Bourdain.

In 2010, Brown criticized Richman's show for its eating-challenge format, describing it as disgusting: "That show is about gluttony, and gluttony is wrong. It's wasteful. Think about people that are starving to death and think about that show. I think it's an embarrassment," he told Zap2It. Alton Brown is an advocate of healthy cooking, so it was no surprise that he came out with the statement. In response, Richman clapped back in a now-deleted tweet, saying that the program wasn't about gluttony, but about indulgence. He added that the television series also brought business to many mom-and-pop restaurants across the country. As a parting shot, Richman said to Brown: "You were my hero, sir. No more."

Bourdain also had some harsh opinions. In 2015 while doing his "Close to the Bone" tour, the late chef was asked to comment on how he felt about "Man v. Food," to which Bourdain bluntly answered: "Why did we watch that show? Admit it. You wanted him to die" (via Atlanta Magazine). Then, he joked that Richman's program made Americans seem "fat, lazy, slothful, [and] wasteful" to Middle Eastern audiences, who were big fans of the series. Bourdain imagined Afghans saying to themselves: "'America is a terrible place. I want to join ISIS.'"

He Lost A Mentor To Suicide

Anthony Bourdain massaging Adam Richman
Anthony Bourdain massaging Adam Richman - adamrichman/Instagram

"Man v. Food" might have had a hater in Bourdain, but the late chef certainly wasn't a hater of Richman. Anthony Bourdain and Adam Richman were good friends. "Tony didn't like Man v. Food. He liked me. And he made that very, very clear," Richman told Mashed, adding that they often hung out and gave each other restaurant recommendations.

Bourdain also became a mentor to Richman, giving advice that would help the latter navigate the world of culinary entertainment. In an another Mashed exclusive, Adam Richman shared the best advice he ever got from Bourdain, who told him to "acknowledge that there is going to be a portion of sick Fs that are hoping something bad happens to you, that are rooting against you ... And you have to just block things and move on. And you have to focus on yourself and your stories."

Richman took it hard when the former "Parts Unknown" host passed away in 2018. In a tweet, Richman said that while he'd never understand why Bourdain would take his own life, he was grateful for their time together as friends and colleagues. Three years later, on the 3rd anniversary of Bourdain's death, Richman penned a tweet saying, "Just realized that today was the day we lost you. Those times I want to call or text you & I realize I can't still feel like a gut punch ... I miss you, Tony."

If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available. Call or text 988 or chat

He Was A Victim Of Disinformation

Adam Richman in Tottenham kits
Adam Richman in Tottenham kits - adamrichman/Instagram

Not many might know this but Richman also loves soccer. He enjoys it so much that he's always in the U.K. to follow his favorite team, Tottenham Hotspur (the Spurs). Unfortunately for him, having grown up in America, he learned British footballing culture the hard way after making an honest mistake and becoming a victim of disinformation.

In an interview with Talking THFC, Richman said that in 2011 when he was still new to English football, he was asked which team he supported. In a tweet, Richman answered the Spurs, but also West Ham, among others. The custom in Britain is that you should support one team and one team only. Richman's answer, thus, received negative press (and antisemitic comments) because the Spurs and West Ham are rivals. Upon realizing his mistake, Richman apologized and the issue died down.

A few years later, however, the issue would resurface. Richman had granted a blogger an interview, but the latter felt that it was rushed. Disgruntled, the blogger spread lies, saying that the former "Man v. Food" host charged interview fees, which Richman has denied. Richman's previous tweet about West Ham was then uncovered and spread online, fueling more hate. "People reacted to it without reading the date that it was published," said Richman, before clarifying with finality that he is a Spurs fan only. "... sadly, when people don't do research, the internet is a fertile breeding ground for rumors and hateful trolls."

He Almost Died From An Infection In His Mustache

Adam Richman in a suit
Adam Richman in a suit - Kathy Hutchins/Shutterstock

Adam Richman has had a close brush with death not once, but twice. The first incident involved the ghost chili extract overdose on "Man v. Food," and the second involved a mysterious infection in his mustache.

In an interview Richman did with Celebrity Catch Up: Life After That Thing I Did, he said that on a 2018 trip to Switzerland, one of his hair follicles had become swollen like a pimple. He went to see a doctor, not really thinking it was serious, but he soon found out it was. "... eventually my lip inflated like a banana — it was grotesque," said Richman. He was diagnosed with Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a staph infection that's difficult to treat due to its resistance against some antibiotics. If left untreated, it can become life-threatening.

Because the MRSA was located in a crucial location on his face, Richman was told that he needed surgery ASAP and that, to keep the bacteria from spreading to others, he had to be quarantined. He was also given some serious antibiotics. To this day, no one knows how he got infected. "The doctor said it could have been anything from a water glass to a hotel towel, shaking someone's hand ... There's any number of ways," he said, adding that he's now more grateful to be alive because his life could be taken away from him randomly just like that. "Every day above ground is a gift."

Read the original article on Mashed