Published August 07, 2009
TAMPA, Fla. – An autopsy shows that cocaine use contributed to the death of boisterous TV pitchman Billy Mays, officials announced Friday.
The 50-year-old info-mercial king died of a heart attack in his sleep after going to bed at his Tampa condo the night of June 27. His wife found him unresponsive the next morning.
The Hillsborough County medical examiner's office Friday said although Mays died from heart disease, cocaine use was a contributing cause of death. Mays had last used cocaine days before his death, the report said.
The Mays family issued a statement Friday saying, "We are extremely disappointed by the press release released by the Hillsborough County medical examiner's office. We believe it contains speculative conclusions that are frankly unnecessary and tend to obscure the conclusion that Billy suffered from chronic, untreated hypertension, which only demonstrates how important it is to regularly monitor one's health."
According to the family's statement, Mays used prescription pain medication for a severe hip condition but always at recommended levels and under the guidance of his physician.
"We were totally unaware of any non prescription drug usage and are actively considering an independent evaluation of the autopsy results," the family said.
Mays was a pop-culture fixture with his energetic commercials pitching gadgets and cleaning products like Orange Glo and OxiClean.
He developed his style demonstrating knives, mops and other "As Seen on TV" gadgets on Atlantic City's boardwalk. For years he worked on commission on the state fair and home show circuits, attracting crowds with his booming voice and genial manner.
He got his start on TV on the Home Shopping Network and then branched out into commercials and infomercials. He developed such a strong following that he became the subject of a reality TV series, Discovery Channel's "Pitchmen."
The Associated Press contributed to this story.