The story of a sideshow star named Miracle Mike the headless chicken baffled scientists because of how long he survived without his head


Headless ghosts and ghouls who roam the earth are what most people would relate to as the stuff of fiction. With this being said, what if we were to tell you that there has been an account of a headless chicken who lived for 18 months? If you have a hard time believing this really happened, continue reading and learn it’s story.

Over seventy years ago, a farmer located in Colarado named Lloyd Olsen was preparing his chickens for slaughter as per usual. It was on the 10th of September of the year 1945 when Olsen and his wife Clara were killing their chickens to be sold in the local market. Olsen was charged with beheading the birds and his wife would clean them up. 

They have done this process countless times in the past and it became almost mechanical because they thought they knew what to expect. Imagine their surprise when they found that one of the chickens Olsen had clearly beheaded was still running around the compound.

The couple’s great grandson named Troy Waters recalled “They got down to the end and had one who was still alive, up and walking around.” Waters, who is a farmer himself in the same area of Fruita said that the chicken kicked and ran around, it didn’t stop. The couple placed the chicken in an old apple box and kept in on the farm’s porch for the night.


The next morning, Olsen decided to check up on the bird expecting it to be dead but was understandably shocked when he found that it was still very much alive and kicking. Waters recalled him saying “The damn thing was still alive.”

Christa Waters, Troy’s wife, says “It’s part of our weird family history.”

Olsen told the story to his great grandson when he was bedridden and came to live in Waters’ parents house. Their bedrooms were next to each other and so he heard the old man talking for hours when he couldn’t sleep at night.

“He took the chicken carcasses to town to sell them at the meat market,” Waters says. “He took this rooster with him – and back then he was still using the horse and wagon quite a bit. He threw it in the wagon, took the chicken in with him and started betting people beer or something that he had a live headless chicken.”


Just like all things weird and wonderful, word of this headless bird spread like wildfire and soon enough all of Fruita heard the news. A local newspaper was interested enough to dispatch a reporter to interview Olsen. This news caught the attention of a sideshow promoter named Hope Wade who traveled over 600 kilometers from Salt Lake City to visit Olsen and his headless bird. He made a proposition and that was to take the chicken on to the sideshow circuit where they could make some money out of this oddity.

Waters said, “Back then in the 1940s, they had a small farm and were struggling.”

“Lloyd then said, ‘What the hell – we might as well.'”


They first visited Salt Lake City and the University of Utah where the university scientists did multiple tests on the chicken in an attempt to figure out how it could live without it’s head on. Rumor has it that these same scientists surgically removed the heads of many other chickens to see whether any could live after that.

Life Magazine then caught wind of the story and the marvel, Miracle Mike the headless chicken as Hope Wade named was set in history. After that, Lloyd, Clara and Mike set off on a tour of the US. They took Miracle Mike to California and Arizona then Wade chauffeured the bird around the south-eastern United States when the Olsens had to return to their farm to collect their harvests.

The bird’s story peaked the nation’s interest and the couple received letters from far and wide. Some people accused them of being Nazis and others thought of ways to make Miracle Mike more of a wonder by suggesting the couple to replace one of it’s legs with a wooden peg. The bird became so well known that a few letters addressed to “The owners of the headless chicken in Colorado” managed to find their way to the family’s mailbox.


The Olsens then took their chicken to Phoenix, Arizona where Waters recalls “That’s where it died – in Phoenix.”

The thing is that Mike was fed with liquefied food and water that the couple dropped directly into his esophagus.They also had to regularly clear mucus form the bird’s throat with  syringe. One night, the couple heard the sound of Mike choking and could not find the syringe. They realized they had left it at the sideshow and before they could find anything else, the bird suffocated.

“For years he would claim he had sold [the chicken] to a guy in the sideshow circuit,” Waters says. “It wasn’t until, well, a few years before he died that he finally admitted to me one night that it died on him. I think he didn’t ever want to admit he screwed up and let the proverbial goose that lays golden eggs die on him.”

Olsen never told anyone what he did to the bird. “I’m willing to bet he got flipped out in the desert somewhere between here and Phoenix, on the side of the road, probably eaten by coyotes,” Waters says.


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