Rats! Rodent killer only gets TV for saving food for country

This past year, Tiger Woods won over $20 million in prize money playing golf, including a $10 million check for winning the Fed Ex Cup championship. Including endorsements, his total earnings for the year are approaching $100 million. His nearest competitor, Phil Mickelson, has earned only $53 million so far.

The New York Yankees had the best record in baseball this year, finishing eight games ahead of the second-place Boston Red Sox in the American League’s tough Eastern Division.

Usain Bolt won every 100- and 200-meter race he entered in 2009 and won most of them going away, often coasting to easy victories against the best sprinters in the world.

As dominating as Tiger, Usain and the Yankees were in 2009, none dominated as convincingly as Mokhairul Islam. He is a 40-year-old poultry farmer from Bangladesh. That country held a contest to see who could kill the most rats over a 30-day period. Islam won first place by dispatching a mind-boggling 83,450 rats.

Fakhrul Haque Akanda from Northern Bangladesh took second, killing 37,450 rats in the same month. That means Islam beat his nearest competitor by more than 46,000 rats, which is the vermin equivalent of the Yankees winning their division by 40 games, Tiger winning every tournament he entered by an average of 10 strokes, or Bolt lapping someone in a 100-meter dash.

I know what you’re thinking. Was Islam juiced? Did he rely on performance-enhancing drugs? It turns out that chemicals did play a part in Islam’s stunning victory in that Islam dispatched his 83,450 rats with poison. Akanda got his rats using traps, most of which he devised himself. It’s not clear what Akanda did with his 37,450 rats after trapping them, but one wonders if maybe he released them, possibly onto Islam’s farm, but Bangladesh’s rat derby has not instituted the videotape instant replay yet, so we’ll never know.

I’m not advocating that we make rat-killing an Olympic sport. Before any rodent right-to-lifers take me to task for encouraging cruelty toward rodents, let me remind us that killing rats in Bangladesh is no idle pastime. Rats destroy more than a million tons of food each year in Bangladesh, a country that is not unacquainted with food shortages.

Bangladesh imports more than 3 million tons of food each year. Agriculture minister Wais Kabir said his country could cut its food imports by half if it could figure out a way to control its rodent population, hence the idea of the contest. When his country called for help with its serious and debilitating rat problem, Islam answered the call with a vengeance.

By the way, for winning Bangladesh’s rat derby, Islam received a 14-inch color TV and a certificate. Akanda also received a TV, but no certificate.

Interesting that Tiger earns $100 million in one year for being the world’s best golfer, while a man who helps his country feed itself by single-handedly killing over 83,000 rats wins a modest-sized TV set.

I don’t begrudge Tiger his millions. I suspect that Woods would compete just as hard and be just as dominating if he were playing for $2 a hole and all the Gatorade he could drink. I just can’t help but wonder what it would be like if we lived in a world where Tiger got the TV and Islam the $10 million. Guess we’ll never know.

Tom Tyner writes a weekly humor column for this newspaper. This is from his “Classics” file.