Yes, right now everyone is pissed off at Richard Heene, the man behind the Balloon Boy hoax, but there are some people whose need for fame has ended in with much worse collateral damage—including death.
Yes, setting loose a balloon, captivating the media and the public, causing taxpayer money to be spent on a false rescue attempt, and ruining your family are all pretty crappy, but they're not as bad as some of these other people. And while all of them might have had a moment in the sun, none ever achieved the real fame that they were looking for. We have a feeling Heene is on the same trajectory.
What She Did: Went on the Fox reality show Moment of Truth and told her husband she cheated on him and that she wanted to be married to her ex-boyfriend. The saddest part is she did it for money, which she didn't end up winning.
Who Was Hurt: Her husband, of course, as well as the friends and ex-boyfriend who got themselves dragged into this. And Cleri herself, who will never have any credibility anywhere ever again.
Results: We haven't heard from her since—thank God.
Balloon Bursting: This is about as bad as Heene. There wasn't the taxpayer cost or media coverage, but multiple lives were ruined in the public sphere. She might be not as bad because at least she didn't destroy the psyches of any children.
What She Did: Conspired with her ex-husband to have competitor Nancy Kerrigan attacked so that she could be the most famous figure skater in America.
Who Was Hurt: Kerrigan, figure skating fans.
Results: Kerrigan recovered and ended up placing higher in the Olympics than Harding. Harding has since been on the fringes of pop culture including making a sex tape and fighting on Celebrity Boxing on, you guessed it, Fox.
Balloon Bursting: On the same scale, but slightly worse, since someone was actually injured.
Harlow Cuadra and Joeseph Kerekes
What They Did: The two gay escorts murdered porn producer Bryan Kochis so they could work with his contract star, Brent Corrigan, and make a porn movie and get rich and famous. After stabbing him 28 times, they set the house on fire to cover their tracks.
Who Was Hurt: Kochis, and Corrigan, who continues his career and has a hard time shaking association with the scandal.
Results: Kerekes pleaded guilty and is currently serving a life sentence. Cuadra had a trial, and was found guilty but did not get the death penalty because of a hung jury. The story never even made it out of the gay and local news circuits.
Balloon Bursting: While it didn't tie up as much media time as Balloon Boy, someone actually died.
John Hinckley Jr
What He Did: Shot President Ronald Reagan so that he could become famous and get the attention of Jodie Foster, who he was in love with.
Who Was Hurt: Reagan, press secretary James Brady, who remains paralyzed from the event, and two others.
Results: Hinkley was found not guilty by reason of insanity, and is still under psychiatric care, but is now allowed to leave the hospital for days at a time. Brady became a staunch advocate for gun regulation.
Balloon Bursting: This got as even more coverage in the media than Balloon Boy, and several people were actually injured, especially Brady.
What He Did: A Brazilian politician who allegedly ordered hits on people to goose the ratings on his reality television show.
Who Was Hurt: The five people who were murdered as a result, the reputation of all Brazilians.
Results: He's still awaiting trial.
Balloon Bursting: This didn't get as much attention in America as Balloon Boy, but having five people killed is way worse than saying your kid was in an escaped helium balloon.