A little housekeeping to start… a dead pool is a game of prediction which involves guessing when a celebrity, be it movie star, athlete, politician, etc, will die. No use telling a whole story about a dead pool and not have you know what one is.
On the evening of December 31, 1999 Mitch “el Segador” Sanchez participated in his first death pool in a small casino in Reno. The rules were relatively simple; draft a roster of ten celebrities that you think might die in the year 2000. Competing against nine other players, you take turns picking until you have your full roster. Then as the year progresses, you get points for each of the celebrities that pass away.
That first year Mitch’s ‘team’ all died. Ten for Ten.
He obviously walked away with the top prize.
So then next year he came back again and played.
And won again.
Ten for ten.
That’s how he got his nickname.
By the time it came time for him to play again on December 31, 2001, the place was packed. TV stations and social media were crawling all over the casino floor, waiting to see who his picks would be.
He did not disappoint.
Another perfect year.
From that point on Mitch “el Segador” Sanchez made a comfortable living not making his picks known until after the deadline to enter each year had passed. Otherwise it would have meant an end to the entire dead pool industry.
You see, year after year, he went ten for ten.
You can imagine how it made the people he selected feel. In fact, recently there was one celebrity who hung himself on January 3rd when he saw he made the list. Another celebrity, seeing his name on the same list made a very public commitment to improve his health and wellbeing and then had an aneurism and fell over dead the very next day. It was only January 4th and Mitch already had two in the box, as it were.
He was endlessly asked how he did it. He explained in no uncertain terms that he had no idea.
Some in the press called him a murderer of sorts, some a psychic, and others a time traveler. ‘The luckiest man on the planet’, ‘blessed’ and ‘cursed’.
Each December his phone blew up with celebrities pleading with him and offering him bribes not to include their name on his list.
Each New Year’s Day he sentenced ten more people to less than another year of existence.
Sometimes an interviewer would inquire if he’d ever had the urge to include someone on his list simply because he didn’t like them. “That would against the rules” he would reply, “I am a man of integrity after all.” And to leave someone off his list because he liked them? “Unthinkable.”
The hosts of whatever show he happened to be on never bothered to follow up to ask about these ‘rules’, finding it much more amusing to list all the people that they would like to add to his list.
Online there were entire chat rooms dedicated to his use of ‘integrity.’
Then this year, on December 31st, Mitch selected the tenth and last final on his dead pool list.
Mitch “el Segador” Sanchez.
“I am a Tralfamadorian, seeing all time as you might see a stretch of Rocky Mountains. All time is all time. It does not change. It does not lend itself to warnings or explanations. It simply is. Take it moment by moment, and you will find that we are all, as I’ve said before, bugs in amber.”
― Kurt Vonnegut Jr., Slaughterhouse-Five