What happened to Rich Piana? Is Rich Piana dead?

Rich Piana, a larger-than-life figure in the bodybuilding and fitness world, made headlines in August 2017 when he collapsed and fell into a coma. This article explores the shocking details of what happened to the controversial yet popular bodybuilder and entrepreneur, including the ultimate cause of his untimely death at the young age of 46.

Who Was Rich Piana?

Rich Piana was an American bodybuilder, entrepreneur, and internet personality known for his massive physique and outspoken personality. He competed in the prestigious Mr. Olympia competition and achieved widespread fame for his impressive muscle mass and unique look.

Here is a chart summarizing the key details about Rich Piana’s life and career:

Category Details
Full Name Richard Eugene Piana
Date of Birth September 26, 1970
Place of Birth Northridge, Los Angeles, California
Date of Death August 25, 2017 (age 46)
Cause of Death Cardiac arrest and organ failure due to long-term steroid use
Occupation Professional bodybuilder, entrepreneur
Years Active 1992-2017
Height 6’1″ (1.85m)
Competition Weight Around 300 lbs (140 kg)
Competition History Competed in IFBB bodybuilding competitions in the late 1990s and early 2000s
Best Competition Results 1st – NPC Los Angeles (1998), NPC California – Over 200 lbs class (1999), NPC Ironman Pro Invitational (2002)
Signature Look Heavily muscular physique, shaved head, tattoos
Supplement Company Founded supplement and apparel brand Rich Piana: 5% Nutrition in 2011
Social Media Fame Gained huge popularity on YouTube and other platforms, over 1 million YouTube subscribers
Controversies Open steroid and synthetic hormone use despite risks and side effects

Rich Piana’s Bodybuilding Career and Accomplishments

Piana’s accomplishments in the bodybuilding world included:

  • Competing in the Mr. Olympia competition multiple times, placing as high as 8th in 2003
  • Winning the overall title at the 1998 NPC (National Physique Committee) Championships
  • Starting his own successful supplement company, Rich Piana 5% Nutrition, in 2009
  • Building a massive online following with over 1.2 million subscribers on YouTube

Beyond his impressive physical stature, Rich Piana was known for his controversial views and brash personality. He was an outspoken advocate for the use of anabolic steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) in bodybuilding, much to the dismay of many in the industry.

Rich Piana’s Controversial Persona

Rich Piana's Controversial Persona

Piana’s unapologetic promotion of steroid use and extreme training methods made him a polarizing figure in the fitness world. While some criticized him for promoting unhealthy practices, others praised his honesty and dedication to pushing the limits of what was possible in bodybuilding.

I made it very clear that I’m a huge proponent of steroids. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with using them.” – Rich Piana, in a YouTube interview

Rich Piana was a pioneer in being open about steroid use. He was honest about it, and people respected that.” – Fouad Abiad, fellow bodybuilder and YouTuber

What Happened to Rich Piana?

On August 7, 2017, while getting a haircut at a barbershop in Florida, Rich Piana unexpectedly collapsed and fell into a coma. Witnesses reported that he had been slurring his words and seemed disoriented before suddenly losing consciousness.

Piana was immediately rushed to the nearby Brandon Regional Hospital, where doctors placed him on life support. His fiance, Chanel Jansen, released a statement that he had suffered a “medical emergency” and was in critical condition.

Over the next few days, Jansen provided updates on Piana’s dire situation. It was revealed that he had suffered heart and organ failure, as well as severe blockages in his arteries. Doctors scrambled to stabilize his condition, but the prognosis was extremely bleak from the start.

He’s hanging on by a thread. Machines are doing most of the work for his body. Please pray for him.” – Chanel Jansen, in an update on Piana’s condition

Piana remained in a coma for nearly two weeks as doctors worked tirelessly to save his life. He was placed on ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation), a machine that provides heart and lung support, in an effort to give his organs a chance to recover.

The Aftermath and Debates Around Rich Piana’s Health Crisis

Rich Piana’s hospitalization and coma sparked intense debates within the bodybuilding community and beyond. Many attributed his health crisis to his extreme lifestyle and alleged steroid use. Critics argued that his massive size and physique were unnatural and unhealthy, while fans praised his dedication to bodybuilding.

“I’m shocked but not surprised by what happened to Rich. His physique was clearly a result of years of steroid abuse.” – Anonymous bodybuilder

“Steroids or not, Rich worked harder than anyone I know. His passion for bodybuilding was unmatched.” – Fan comment on YouTube

The debates also touched on the broader issue of safety and regulation within the sport of bodybuilding. Some called for more stringent testing and penalties for PED use, while others argued that the use of steroids was a personal choice that should be respected.

How Did Rich Piana Die? Rich Piana Cause of Death


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A post shared by Rich Piana (@1dayumay)

After nearly two weeks in a coma, Rich Piana passed away on August 25, 2017, at the age of 46. His fiance, Chanel Jansen, announced the devastating news to his fans and followers on social media.

“I’m in disbelief and pain. I don’t know how to do this life without him. He was my soul mate.” – Chanel Jansen, on Instagram

In the days leading up to his death, Piana’s condition had reportedly improved slightly, with doctors expressing cautious optimism. However, the damage to his body was too severe, and he ultimately succumbed to his medical issues.

Cause of Death

The official cause of Rich Piana’s death, as listed on the medical reports, was a heart attack. However, the contributing factors were more complex.

According to the autopsy and medical records, Rich Piana’s death was the result of:

  • Severe coronary artery disease (blockages in the arteries)
  • Years of steroid use and abuse
  • An unhealthy lifestyle involving extreme bodybuilding practices

The autopsy report also noted that Piana had an enlarged heart and a body mass index (BMI) of 37, which is considered obese.


The untimely death of Rich Piana at the age of 46 shocked the fitness community and raised important questions about the dangers of extreme bodybuilding lifestyles. While his dedication and passion for the sport were undeniable, the alleged abuse of anabolic steroids and other PEDs ultimately contributed to his demise.

As the debates continue around the use of performance-enhancing drugs in bodybuilding, Rich Piana’s story serves as a cautionary tale. It highlights the need for greater awareness, education, and safer practices within the industry. What are your thoughts on Rich Piana’s death and the role of steroids in bodybuilding? Share your views in the comments below.

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