The Most Bizarre Florida Man Stories Ever
Ah, Florida Man! The cartoonish composite of very real wacky criminals and adventurers from the Sunshine State, brought to you by media outlets at such impressive frequency you’d be hard-pressed to believe anyone in the state has time to do anything but end up in the news for strange reasons.
Now, before we make too much fun of the good citizens of Florida, it must be noted there’s more than one reason for the state’s over-representation in the “crazy crimes” section of news sites. As CNN reminds us, a good chunk of Florida Man’s media prevalence comes from Florida’s public record laws, which allow journalists easy access to all manner of strange stories that would be more difficult to obtain in other states. It’s also speculated the state’s “suffocating humidity” and large, diverse population play a part in all the weirdness. And when you look behind the strange façade of some of Florida Man’s escapades, it’s not uncommon to find mental illness and personal tragedy. With that in mind, we’ll (mostly) steer clear of mentioning any names, even when the sources opt to do so. We’ll just report some of the most bizarre — and rest assured, they are very, very bizarre — stories of Florida Man.
Florida Man's adventures at the Chick-Fil-A parking lot
Imagine that you’re feeling peckish and decide to pay a visit to your local Chick-Fil-A, only to be confronted by a man in his birthday suit who challenges you to a fight and to stare at his private parts. That would be a way taller order than the Spicy Chicken Sandwich you were hankering, and of course, that exact scenario has played out in Florida. In 2018, ABC Local 10 News reported that a Florida Man decided to spend one Monday morning in September removing all his clothes in the parking lot of a Jacksonville Chick-Fil-A. The disrobed gent then started yelling at passersby, challenging them to either fight him or to look at his naughty bits — or possibly, and somewhat horrifyingly, both at the same time.
Oddly enough, Florida Man completely failed to establish the Jacksonville chapter of Pantsless Fight Club. After a deputy observed him issue his crotch-staring challenges to several passing cars, the man was promptly “arrested and charged with disorderly conduct.” To his credit, he went easily and didn’t dare the officers to engage in mortal combat.
Florida Woman's unfortunate lottery scam
In all fairness to male denizens of the Sunshine State, Florida Woman has also been known to partake in antics. In 2018, Miami Herald reported the strange story of a Winn-Dixie Liquors store in Fort Myers, where Florida Woman worked as a cashier and handled, among other things, the scanning of customers’ lottery tickets. Unfortunately, Florida Woman couldn’t resist the prospect of pocketing people’s winnings. When a man presented her with a ticket that she discovered was worth $600, she stealthily gave him $5 of her own money and informed him that was all he had won. Surely, the customer would be satisfied with his meager prize and go away, leaving Florida Woman with the winning ticket. The easiest $595 ever made, right?
It might have been! However, this particular customer knew perfectly well that his ticket was worth $600 instead of $5 … because Florida Woman had been trying to scam an undercover security agent of the Florida Lottery Commission. The agent soon returned to the store with his grand reveal, and after the $600 ticket was discovered in Florida Woman’s notebook, its jackpot strangely transformed into a larceny grand theft charge.
Florida Man drives a forklift in Wonderland
When Florida Man introduces himself as “Alice Wonderland” and starts digging into Lewis Carroll’s mythology, you know you’re in for a ride. As NBC Miami reports, this particular ride happened in Crestview in 2017, and its less mythical elements involved a stolen forklift and a wrecked liquor store. After breaking into a restricted area and acquiring the forklift, Florida Man used his ride to tear through a half-built Walmart liquor store to the tune of an impressive $100,000 in damage.
When witnesses called the police, Florida Man even attempted to turn the forklift on them before they were able to stop him at gunpoint. After his arrest, Florida Man gave the cops his Wonderland-themed alias and explained that he was merely acting on orders of a “hookah-smoking caterpillar,” which for reasons known only to him had gone all Carry Nation and taken offense with the concept of selling booze. This went roughly as well as you’d expect, and while it’s probably safe to assume that “Alice Wonderland” wasn’t in possession of all his faculties for one reason or another, he was still left facing charges for grand theft felony and an assortment of other antics.
Florida Man's one-sided karate battle with swans
Sometimes, even animals aren’t safe from Florida Man and his strange impulses. According to Deadspin, a bunch of swans in downtown Orlando found this out the hard way in 2018 when their innocent and carefree schedule of swimming serenely was rudely interrupted by a particularly odd manifestation of Florida Man, who decided to have his morning karate session at their expense. According to Bloody Elbow, this Florida Man wasn’t exactly a combat novice, either — he was a former college wrestler and amateur MMA fighter.
We can only speculate on what prompted a clearly experienced-ish martial artist to start an avian-themed kumite tournament at Lake Eola Park. Still, that’s precisely what Florida Man did, and his karate rampage involved kicking two swans in the head, one in the rear, and even allegedly kicking a small duck that was just trying to have a quiet nap. While the attacker reportedly just laughed at the horror of a witness, others soon alerted the authorities and Florida Man was promptly arrested for “practicing karate on swans.”
Florida Mayor's SWAT attack
Don’t think for a second that Florida Man weirdness is exclusively reserved for the state’s less fortunate. Evidently, representatives of pretty much every layer of Florida society can get strange at a moment’s notice, and Tampa Bay Times recounts a particularly strange incident where the Florida Man in question was in fact a Florida Mayor. In January 2019, a SWAT team raided the estate of Mayor Dale Massad (we’ll make an exception on the “no names” policy for this one, seeing as the guy was an elected official and everything) of the coastal city of Port Richey. The 68-year-old mayor, who lost his medical license way back in 1992, was in hot water because the sheriff’s office had discovered that the lack of license hadn’t exactly stopped him from treating people and ordering drugs online. In fact, drugs factored in the mayor’s life in more ways than one, seeing as he was also “a violent drug user” with a history of trouble with the law.
Mayor Massad welcomed the SWAT team by immediately making the situation a thousand times worse for him, as he opened fire at the officers. However, the SWAT team refrained from shooting back, and were able to detain Massad with no casualties apart from the man’s mayoral career … and freedom, seeing as Tampa Bay Times notes Florida Mayor’s trigger-happiness scored him a round of five attempted murder charges on top of his other troubles.
Wanted Florida Man pretends to be another wanted Florida Man
Sometimes, officials of the Sunshine State find that they have to deal with multiple Florida Men at once. As ABC7 reported, such was the case in July 2019, when deputies from Bradenton sheriff’s office spotted a 26-years-old Florida Man strolling along on the side of the U.S. 41 North highway and became concerned that a car might hit him. They stopped the guy and asked for his I.D., which was bad news for Florida Man, who had an outstanding warrant for “dealing stolen property and uttering forged instrument” and would have very much preferred to avoid getting arrested, thank you very much.
Florida Man attempted to solve the situation by cunningly telling the deputies that he didn’t have any identification with him and giving them his brother’s name. Unfortunately, his brother was an accomplished Florida Man in his own right, and happened to have an outstanding warrant as well. The deputies, thinking Florida Man 1 was his brother, Florida Man 2, immediately took him to the station, where fingerprinting revealed his true identity, and prompted what we imagine must be some pretty awkward family discussions when the two brothers met up the next time.
Florida Man meets an NFL cornerback
As ABC Local 10 News reports, in early 2019 a Florida Man from Wellington was indulging in the unsavory pastime of voyeurism. He was standing outside a girl’s bedroom window and, uh, let’s just say he only had one hand free when he found out the hard way why you really don’t do that. This particular life lesson came in the form of the girl’s father, who just so happened to be former NFL cornerback Tony Beckham — and who caught Florida Man in the act. According to the police report, when Beckham discovered a man hiding in the bushes “with his hands in his pants,” he immediately started yelling. This was more than sufficient to send Florida Man running, but Beckham decided that it would be appropriate to apprehend the creeper, at which point Florida Man found out first hand that the former athlete was still very good at both running and tackling.
Typical for a Florida Man story, the exact details of what happened after this are a bit hazy. A single news article manages to claim both that Beckham beat up the guy and he merely held him down until the law enforcement arrived, plus that Florida Man managed to put up a fight. Beckham himself isn’t exactly helping, as his description of the events is: “I caught him at the apartment over there and we just had a good conversation.”
Florida Man and the curious case of fake urine
It’s one thing to accidentally crash your car. It’s another thing to do so while under the influence. And, as always, it’s a Florida Man thing to take that concept to levels of absurdity that most mortals could not even begin to comprehend. As TC Palm reports, a St. Lucie County Florida Man managed to send his car veering into a stationary truck trailer. When the officials noted that his pupils were constricted and he seemed less than sober, he was arrested for driving under the influence and property damage.
Things took a turn for the absurd when the deputies searched the crashed vehicle and uncovered a bag that contained “fake urine” and smelled of weed. Florida Man’s eminently believable explanation for the bag was that it was a “novelty item” and insinuated that he and his wife planned to use it for “role play.” Despite some no doubt interesting mental images, the officers took their inquiries to the wife, who said she had no idea about the fake urine (and presumably wanted some words with her husband afterwards for the role play comments). Incidentally, she also revealed that it just so happened Florida Man was due for a drug test at work. If only there was some way to connect that to a bag of urine in his car.
Florida Man robs bank, redistributes money like only he can
The year 2017 saw a Florida Man indulging in the surprisingly conventional crime of bank robbery, but as AP News records, this young Fort Lauderdale criminal went about it in a way that truly earned him the moniker. Though the robbery itself went surprisingly well, his comparatively meager haul of $4,700 contained a dye pack that promptly exploded all over his clothes and the cast he had on his wrist. Florida Man reacted to this setback by taking a radical new approach to the concept of bank robbery: He threw away all his clothes and started running down the street, throwing money from the bag as he went.
Strangely, this Florida Man appeared to think that the whole bank robber/nudist Robin Hood thing would somehow “jump-start his career as a comedian.” Unfortunately for him, this particular criminal activity is a federal crime regardless of how bad you are at it, and he was promptly in the hands of the FBI, facing bank robbery charges. OK, that’s actually the opposite of comedy.
Florida Man gave greyhounds cocaine to make them race faster
Some Florida Man stories are just sad, no matter how absurd they seem on surface. Such is the case with the greyhound race trainer from Jacksonville area, whom WPTV reports was very keen on giving his dogs an edge in the competition. So keen, in fact, that at least 12 of his greyhounds tested positive for cocaine.
While “greyhound on cocaine” might make a nice metaphor for swiftness, in reality, this Florida Man had been boosting his poor hounds’ performance with a cocaine metabolite called benzoylecgonine, thus compromising their health badly enough to have his license suspended for, among other things, being “a threat to animals in his control, custody and care.” To be completely fair to Florida Man (even if this particular one doesn’t really deserve it), this is hardly a unique case in the surprisingly wild world of greyhound racing. There have been 62 positive tests for cocaine since 2008, and shortly before Florida Man a Russian trainer lost his license for the same reason. Apparently a top speed of 45 miles per hour just isn’t impressive enough. You try running that fast, Florida Man.
Florida police chief attempts to “boost stats” by randomly arresting black people
Florida Man doesn’t necessarily have to be a hardcore criminal. As NY Mag attests, he might just as likely be on the other side of the law, at least technically. Take the case of Biscayne Park police chief Raimundo Atesiano (let’s just name the guy, with him being a public official and all that), whose department boasted pretty much perfect crime statistics, to the point where in 2013 and 2014 they solved no less than 29 of 30 burglaries. However, Atesiano was both desperate to keep his stats shining and finding it challenging to do so in the long run. So he came up with a solution to the problem: Just randomly arrest black people and pin any unsolved crimes on them.
The practice blew up in Florida Police Chief’s face in 2014, when an internal probe uncovered the issue, prompted Atesiano to resign, and eventually he and two other former officers were charged with pinning four different unsolved burglaries on a single 16-year-old black kid, unsupported by law and without a shred of evidence. And while it’s difficult to know just how widespread this practice had been, it’s worth noting that in the year after the probe discovered this racist shortcut, Biscayne Park police solved precisely zero of their 19 burglary cases.
Florida Man issues death threat to professor who scheduled an exam too early in the morning
Dark, quiet early mornings can be terrifying and final exams doubly so, and these are just some of the horrible things university students have to deal with. Still, as ABC Local 10 News reports, in 2018 one particular Florida Man (Florida Student?) found the combination of the two so disagreeable that he took matters (and the law) in his own hands … by threatening to kill his professor. When a Florida Atlantic University professor scheduled a data structure exam at 7 a.m., this disgruntled student reacted by posting a “confession to a premeditated murder” of said professor on Twitter. This sort of thing tends to ring a few law enforcement bells, and Florida Man was soon arrested “on a charge of sending a written threat to kill.” Keep that in mind next time you want to dash off a nasty subtweet.
To be fair, in this case it appears Florida Man was merely indulging in some sleep-deprived venting, rather than actively planning to murder a man because of his own bad time management skills. The student was incredibly frustrated over the fact that he would have to be up at 5 a.m., and unleashed the tweet before coming to his senses and deleting the post soon afterwards.
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