The Sad Truth About Allstate's Mayhem Actor Dean Winters

"Oz" and "Law & Order: SVU" star, Dean Winters has appeared in a slew of hilarious Allstate Insurance commercials since 2010. If you didn't know, Winters played a chaotic character named Mayhem, who effortlessly embodied the multitude of ways that mayhem could unexpectedly impact someone's life. By 2021, Winters had appeared in 116 commercials, a number that seems inconceivable, given that he didn't even want to take a commercial-centered gig. "When they offered me the commercial, I said no," Winters revealed during a 2015 interview with Ricky Camilleri (via HuffPost). "My smarta** the remark was that I became an actor so I wouldn't have to put on a suit and sell insurance.'"

Now, Winters regards the role as one of the major highlights of his career, per Backstage. That's probably because Matt Miller, the writer behind Mayhem, wrote it with Winters in mind. "He took my characters from those three shows and created Mayhem," said Winters. "When they were looking for Mayhem, I think they went out to guys like Jason Statham and Matt Damon—big names. And then they did a search for unknown actors, but this guy Matt Miller, he really pressed Allstate hard and said, "Dean Winters is the guy. Dean is not famous enough where people know him as a household name," he added.

Unfortunately, Winters has also dealt with a few private health battles that threatened his life and livelihood, but his Allstate future, too.

Dean went into cardiac arrest

Dean Winters is one of several celebrities who've cheated death. As Winters related to Page Six in 2010, his troubles started in 2009, after an untreated bacterial infection caused his fever to skyrocket. Instead of heeding his warning sign, Winters delayed treatment. Eventually, he decided to go for a visit to his doctor's office, only to collapse and go into cardiac arrest. "I was afraid to go to St. Vincent's, so I went to my doctor's office on Central Park West, where I collapsed," said Winters. " I was turning black, and my whole head was swelling up." The "Oz" star also revealed that he was clinically dead and had to be resuscitated. Unfortunately, Winters called the ICU his home for nearly a month.

In 2021, Winters spoke with Us Weekly and revealed the scary circumstances that led to his hospitalization. "I went septic due to an illness that I had as a kid and it caught up with me," shared Winters with the outlet. "I was dead in the back of an ambulance, and the great doctors at Lenox Hill Hospital brought me back to life after around four-and-a-half minutes," he continued. Unfortunately, Winters was confused about exactly what happened for two months after waking because doctors try to avoid triggering patients into feeling upset and overwhelmed. However, he eventually realized just how serious the situation was for him. 

He lost some of his fingers and toes

Dean Winters' troubles didn't end once he left the hospital. Winters had several fingers and toes amputated after contracting a secondary ailment during his recovery. According to Page Six, Winters contracted gangrene, a type of tissue death usually caused by inadequate blood flow to the area, and required the amputation of two toes. Winters also lost a portion of one of his thumbs. Fortunately, after undergoing 10 surgeries and skin grafts, Winters was soon able to return to work with a little help. "For the ['30 Rock'] season finale, I had casts on both arms, and another on my foot, which was kept off-camera," said Winters, who also landed his contract with Allstate after his medical ordeal.

Winters still faces challenges related to his amputations. During a different interview with Page Six, Winters detailed his continued struggles. "I haven't taken a step since 2009 without being in pain," Winters told the outlet in November 2021. "I've got neuropathy on, you know, on a whole different level where I can't feel my hands and my feet. But if I stepped on a pebble, it's like I go through the roof." Winters also revealed that his recurrent surgeries were one of the reasons he wasn't keen on signing with Allstate at first. However, they talked him into it. "Allstate was relentless," said Winters. "It's crazy if you look in the Webster dictionary, the Old English definition of the word 'mayhem' is 'one with amputations.'"