DIARY: Exterminator contest incites a million-dollar pest quest

As thousands of computers around the world continued to recuperate from the ’Love Bug’ virus, Bruce Tennenbaum unleashed another type of bug that could be worth a cool million to someone with the stomach to look for it.

As thousands of computers around the world continued to recuperate from the ’Love Bug’ virus, Bruce Tennenbaum unleashed another type of bug that could be worth a cool million to someone with the stomach to look for it.

As thousands of computers around the world continued to recuperate

from the ’Love Bug’ virus, Bruce Tennenbaum unleashed another type of

bug that could be worth a cool million to someone with the stomach to

look for it.



Tennenbaum, owner of Arizona Pest Control, has recruited independent

exterminators in 14 US cities to participate in the Million Dollar Roach

Contest. The merry band of insect mercenaries let loose dozens of

bar-coded bugs from Tampa Bay to Beaverton, and whoever finds the right

roach will cash in to the tune of a million bucks or a new Volkswagon

Beetle - that is, if the winner can refrain from squishing.



Tennenbaum and his ad man, Rob Davidson, dreamed up the roach contests

in 1996 to get publicity for a business name change. He offered dollars

1,000 for the biggest roach in Tucson and dollars 100 for the best big

bug name (Arnold Roachnegger).



The contests have generated their share of controversy. In 1998, local

authorities warned Tucson citizens not to swarm the sewers searching for

Tennenbaum’s dollars 50,000 roach. While nobody found the big-bucks bug,

Tennenbaum again paid for the largest one presented.



Since Tennenbaum went national this year, he’s received calls from Jay

Leno’s people and loads of news coverage. A card-carrying member of the

insect-annihilation community, he has invited other independent

pest-control companies to join up next year.



’I can see big things coming out of this,’ he says. Let’s just hope they

don’t crawl out of our shower drains.



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