1967 Evel Knievel Caesars Palace Fountains Jump Facts & Figures
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December 31, 2017 Marked the 50th Anniversary Of Daredevil Evel Knievel's 1967 Caesars Palace Fountain Jump.
Date: December 31, 1967
Time: Late Afternoon
Location: Caesers Palace on Las Vegas Blvd.
Attempted Length: 141 Ft
Bike Model: Triumph Bonneville 650 T120 TT
ABC's Wide Wide World Of Sports: Originally aired the stunt, but only after buying the film from Evel Knievel who had previously approached them about showing the attempt live. Despite failing, the image of Knievel crossing over the fountains with Caesars Palace helped to put both on the map. Reports of Knievel's 29 days in a coma have been largely debunked, but helped serve Knievel's showmanship and promotion.
What Went Wrong: As Evel Knievel hit the take-off ramp, he reportedly felt an unexpected deceleration in his bike which caused him to come up short and land on a safety ramp. This, in turn, caused a jarring sensation in which he lost control off the bike and tumbled over the handlebars, skidding some distance on the parking lot pavement.
Damage Done: Crushed pelvis and femur; fractures to his hip, wrist and both ankles; a concussion. As previously mentioned, the 29-days-in-a-coma has been largely discredited as Evil Knievel and Caesars Palace's Jay Sarno, who initially wanted nothing to do with the stunt, acted like "like two giggling, sneaky teenagers. They were putting something over on everybody. They were a couple of promoters,” according to Sarno's son.
While Evel Knievel would never attempt to jump the fountains at Caesars Palace again, his failure (or success, one could say) propelled him into the spotlight. Recovering the following year, he began making over $25,000 per jump. The price went up as the stunts and crowds grew; $1 million for crashing over 13 single-deckers in London, $6m for the Snake River plunge.
In the 1970's, toymakers lined up to make a huge profit from Evel Knievel's likeness, raking in over $350 million dollars. Evel himself said to have made $60 million, much of it lost to gambling and drinking. Evel Knievel would pass away at the age of 69 in 2007 with an estimated fortune worth $3 million.
Two subsequent attempts to jump the fountains at Caesars Palace were made. The first, in 1980 by Gary Wells, resulted in a failed attempt and nearly a fatality. Wells suffered two broken legs, a cracked pelvis and a ruptured aorta when his motorcycle crashed into a cement wall after sailing 180 feet over the fountain.
The second attempt, in 1989 by Evel Knievel's own son, Robbie, was a success. Videos of both can be found below.