- Six people won the 30-hour coffin challenge hosted by Six Flags.
- Three of them told INSIDER it was hard but worth it.
- Participants said the most difficult parts were making it to the bathroom and back in just six minutes and trying to sleep with onlookers crowded around.
- They got to keep their coffins at the end, but one contestant sold it to another.
In September, Six Flags St. Louis offered people the opportunity of a lifetime: Lie down in one of our coffins for 30 hours, and we’ll give you $US300 and a season pass.
The offer went viral. More than 45,000 people applied and Six Flags selected six. All of them took on the “30-hour coffin challenge” this past weekend and made it to the end.
The road there, three contestants told INSIDER, was at times torturous – but achievable.
“I had gotten myself into it, and there was no way I was getting out,” Brian Johnson – a mental health counselor and professional wrestler whose alter ego is Kahyman, “master of the dark arts” – told INSIDER. “I was going to ride it out one way or another.”
Olivia Crabtree, a student at nearby St. Louis University, signed up for the contest as a joke. She was surprised to be chosen, but accepted anyway. She’d anticipated that the biggest challenge would be boredom.
“It was 30 hours,” she said. “I brought a few books and some study material since I have midterms this week.”
For Stevie Rogers – a technician at a cataract and laser institute who drove seven hours from Indiana to take the challenge – the opportunity to spend 30 hours in a coffin appealed to her morbid sensibility. She saw an advertisement about the challenge on Facebook and talked about her love for vampire coffins in her application essay.
“I wrote a brief essay about why I thought I would be the best fit due to my love for the vampiric culture and how vampires use coffins to aid in their eternal rest,” she said. “I just love the aesthetic of how they present themselves and everything that has to do with the folklore of it.”
Getting comfortable was impossible
Johnson figured that comfort would be the biggest problem. He said the coffins were “very well constructed” but that the stiffness hurt his back. They were also thin – 28 inches at their widest point – which made it difficult for a body like his.
“You were on a wood plank for the better part of 30 hours,” he said. “Eventually, your body just revolts.”
It didn’t help that there were onlookers at virtually every hour of the day. Park attendees gawked at the six people lined up in coffins and took photos. At night, people shined phone flashlights in their eyes. After midnight, revelers swarmed the park for its raucous, Halloween-themed “Frightfest.” And, even in the early hours of the morning, employees noisily tested the park’s machinery before it opened for guests.
Crabtree told INSIDER she managed to sneak in a few naps, but they didn’t help much.
“They weren’t good naps. The longest I slept for one period of time was for maybe about three and a half hours,” she said. “When I got home, I immediately took a shower and fell right in bed and fell asleep.”
Another challenge was that it got cold at night. Crabtree packed blankets, but Rogers embraced the weather – at first.
“Anybody who knows me knows that this challenge was an easy win for me,” Rogers said. “Just because I am literally that crazy, to think that spending a weekend in a coffin while being in the cold and rain was well worth my time.”
After a while, though, the cold was too much to bear.
She found camaraderie among her fellow contestants, who were determined to get through the coffin challenge together.
“I honestly did not come prepared to be warm for the event because I thought that the coffin was going to be much smaller,” she said. “So the nicest thing that the other contestants did for me was provided their extra blankets and gloves and hot hands for me to use so that I could stay warm throughout the night.”
Contestants could win more break time with challenges
Contestants had a few ways to make it easier. For 13 minutes every hour, they were permitted to use their phones to distract themselves.
For a six-minute period ever hour, they could stretch or use the bathroom. But the bathrooms were far, so they had to sprint to make it there, do their business, and get back in their coffin in the allotted time.
“That was like the fastest six minutes of your life, repeatedly,” Johnson said.
Six Flags employees also gave them a few challenges – fishing an object from the bottom of a bucket of slime or taking a selfie with a character in a haunted house, for example – that gave them a minute or two of extra time for each break.
“The hardest one for me was going through a haunted house alone,” Crabtree said. “I’m usually pretty good at haunted houses, but going through alone was a little rough, a little scary. But it was fun.”
In another challenge, contestants had to stay in their coffin with a tarantula inside. At the end of it, Six Flags employees revealed the tarantula was fake – but the contestants were shown a real one to fool them.
“The hardest part was doing the spider challenge, because of my arachnophobia,” Rogers said. “I really felt like the spider was on me. … And because I actually did stay in the coffin for two minutes, I felt like I had accomplished the biggest fear of my life.”
The final hour of the contest, contestants said, was the hardest.
“At the end, I was getting really antsy,” Crabtree said. “I really wanted to get out of it.”
They got to keep their coffins – but Crabtree sold hers to Johnson
In addition to $US300 and perks at the park, Six Flags let every winner keep their coffin. During the event, Crabtree struggled with what to do with hers. She lives with other members of her sorority, and was worried it would get destroyed.
Johnson, the professional wrestler, jumped at the opportunity to snag a second coffin, and offered her $US100 for it.
“I said OK,” Crabtree said. “I don’t have to deal with it that way. And he said if I ever wanted to go see it, I could.”
With two coffins, Johnson said he can now compete in “casket matches,” where the victor rolls the body of the losing wrestler into a casket.
Johnson also told INSIDER he hasn’t ruled out being buried in one of the caskets when he dies.
“Well now that I am used to it, I would not cancel out that option,” he said.
Rogers told INSIDER she already has a lot of gothic decor and was excited add a full-sized, seven-foot coffin to her collection.
“I actually own a lot of coffins and tombstones and skulls,” Rogers said of her acquisition. “Basically, my home is Halloween, 24/7, 365 days a year.”
She said she’s going to use her new coffin as a coffee table in her living room, but she plans to either add shelves and turn it into a bookshelf or possibly turn it into a bed. She said she would try to be buried in it when she dies, but she doesn’t think it meets cemetery regulatory requirements.
“It stays as a coffee table until I can customise it a little bit more,” she said. “I plan on putting the needed bedding into it so that I can actually sleep in it again.”
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.