The Unbelievable Story of Mike the Headless Chicken

According to Mike the chicken, losing your head is not that bad as it’s thought to be. You better believe it since this one of a kind rooster lived headless for two years and became world-famous for it.

Mike became “the Headless Chicken” on September 10th, 1945 after being decapitated by his owner, Lloyd Olsen from Fruita, Colorado, who wanted to cook him for dinner. During Mike’s attempted decapitation, Llyod hit all the wrong (or right) spots, leaving Mike headless but still alive. Baffled, the owner had a change of heart and decided to nurse the rooster back to health. Mike shook off the upsetting incident and shortly after, started pecking around and grooming his feathers as if nothing had happened. Well, he couldn’t really do all those things because without a head the bird couldn’t eat, drink or see but that didn’t stop him from trying! After feeding him grains and quenching his thirst, Olsen took Mike to the University of Utah where flabbergasted scientists took a close look at the death-defying chicken. According to them, a blood clot prevented Mike from bleeding to death after Olsen’s ax had missed the jugular. As if by miracle, Mike was still left with his left ear and most of his brain stem intact which was enough to keep this feathered critter healthy for the following two years of his life. Apparently chicken’s reflexes lie in their brain stem which explains why Mike still attempted to peck and even sing – gurgle rather, despite his handicap.  Olsen swore to take care of him for the rest of his life, feeding him milk and water with syringes. Mike was doing so well, he even gained weight determining Lloyd to call him a “robust chicken – a fine specimen of a chicken except for not having a head.”

The five-and-a-half month old rooster soon became famous. Nicknamed “The Headless Wonder Chicken,” he toured the country and people paid 25 cents to see his body wandering about with not a care in the world. At one point, Mike was earning $4,500 a month and was valued at $10,000 – more than any other chicken, that’s for sure.  According to this website dedicated to him, “His fame and fortune would earn him recognition in Life and Time Magazines. It goes without saying there was a Guinness World Record in all this.” After two years, the fame got to him and Mike was found dead in his hotel room, having overdosed on illegal drugs. This is only half true as the “Wonder Chicken” did die in a hotel room in Arizona, but only because Olsen was unable to find the eyedropper used to clear Miracle Mike’s open esophagus. After the star’s sad death, Olsen claimed that he had sold the bird off, resulting in all kinds of hair-raising stories of Mike appearing on various shows around the country.


Mike and Olsen’s story inspired other people to behead their chicken in an attempt to create another living headless miracle. Some unlucky birds did survive but only for a short time. Mike’s story is unique and therefore his body was preserved in an institution in his hometown. He is also celebrated annually in his own “Mike the Headless Chicken Day,” which people celebrate by engaging in various fun activities such as “5K Run Like a Headless Chicken Race”, egg toss, “Pin the Head on the Chicken”, the “Chicken Cluck-Off”, and “Chicken Bingo,” where the chicken themselves choose the numbers by pooping on them.


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