'Cowboy Pinball' game leaves spectators shocked and a participant unconscious at Kentucky rodeo

The game of “Cowboy Pinball” seems like it could use some rethinking. (Getty Images)
The game of “Cowboy Pinball” seems like it could use some rethinking. (Getty Images)

One angry bull, 23 volunteers not allowed to run and a $100 prize. What could go wrong?

As the spectators of the 2019 “Bull Bash!” rodeo event at Owensboro, Kentucky, learned Saturday night, a game called “Cowboy Pinball” was a recipe for mayhem, per the Owensboro Times.

How “Cowboy Pinball” works

Here’s how “Cowboy Pinball” apparently works. Volunteers are rounded up and each placed in a small circle in a rodeo pen. A bull with $100 tied to its flank is released into the pen. Whoever grabs the $100 without leaving their circle is declared the winner. The rest reconsider their life decisions, and possibly head to some kind of medical tent.

That was the setup at “Bull Bash.” Video captured shows a first run of the game going off seemingly as planned, but then a second bull is introduced after the first one is taken off. The second bull seemed to have a much worse temperament for the event, and had no problem with charging the participants.

WARNING — The following video contains content some might find disturbing:

At least one spectator the Owensboro Times spoke to said he initially thought the event might have been comedic. And then it all played out, with multiple participants being thrown into the air, and that’s when the arena reportedly became silent:

“A hush came across the gym,” the spectator said. “This did not seem normal for them [the producers of the event]. I never saw the [second] man [regain consciousness]. They were trying to decide who should get the $100 prize, and the people who were still left on the floor said they didn’t want it. They said to give it to the guy who was injured.”

“I’m sure it won’t happen again,” he said of Owensboro having the “Cowboy Pinball” game at another Bull Bash event.

Officials reportedly claimed each participant signed a waiver acknowledging the potential injuries, accidents and even death that could occur during the event. The operators of the Owensboro Sportscenter told the Times that they were unaware the game was going to even be played until Saturday and that they requested the producers not play the game during Sunday’s kid-focused event.

The general manager of the Sportscenter noted that she has been told this game has been played elsewhere, and a quick YouTube search backs that up, with videos claiming to capture events in Clemson, South Carolina, and Gainesville, Florida.

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