Evel Knievel Museum Driving Into the Las Vegas Art District

Evel Knievel has the highest rated jump on ABC’s Wide World of Sports.

By Toni Gonzales

The Evel Knievel Museum is moving to Las Vegas … probably. Today the official Evel Knievel Museum is located in Topeka, Kansas. The only Knievel Estate approved museum is said to be hittin’ the road with a final destination of Las Vegas—1001 S. Main Street in the Arts District to be exact. 

Museum officials have confirmed through local Kansas media outlets that there is indeed a proposal, and it is close to completion, but it isn’t 100 percent done yet. What the holdup on the deal is not known publicly just yet. What is being said in Kansas is that the museum there couldn’t attract enough tourists to keep it afloat. It is in Topeka and has been since 2017.

Las Vegas makes a great deal of sense for the location of a place to honor the legendary stuntman. Heck, before there were superheroes by the dozens on the big screens, there was a real life man who performed superhuman feats in the flesh. 

For the younger crowd, a quick background on Evel Knievel. Born Robert Craig Knievel in 1938 in Butte, Montana the man before his legendary status would live an ordinary life. A police chase and quick stint in jail would drive the soon to be named Evel on an entirely different road. First performing stunts with his trusty motorcycle at state fairs and local spots, he would graduate to be one of the most watched stunt performers of his time. In his career, he would make several dangerous stunts leaping over dozens of trucks and bigger canyons.

One could say that he was one of the original reality stars. Case and point, over the span of his professional career Evel would attempt to sell live broadcasts of his jumps to networks like ABC’s Wide World of Sports. He did that for this infamous jump at Caesars Palace here in Las Vegas. Quicker than one of his stunts going wrong, the network turned him down. It wasn’t until after his failure to jump the fountains at Caesars Palace did the network end up paying far more than the original price.  To date, Evel has the highest rated jump on ABC’s Wide World of Sports. The program would air seven of his jumps.

Now back to that Las Vegas jump. Evel Knievel attempted that jump on the last day of 1963. He used his own money to fund the jump and according to his website, even spent his last $100 on a losing hand of blackjack at Caesars. He would ‘crash and burn’ as the term goes. After a 29 day hospital stay, he was more popular than ever. 

He would continue more death defying jumps making him a household name. There would be Evel Knievel lunch boxes-yes kids, there were lunch boxes once upon a time, toy figurines, and even beer named after the man. At one point, there was even a rock opera in his name. 

All of that is to say that the man is a legend, period. So it should come as no surprise that any museum in his honor be housed in Las Vegas. The city already holds spaces for the Pinball Museum, the Neon Museum, and the Mob Museum. Don’t the citizens of Vegas deserve to pay reverence to the man who, soberly, thought he could jump over the fountains at Caesars? Or, a man who broke more bones in his body than most of us can name? At the very least, the residents need a place to visit before Evel Pie in Downtown, don’t they?

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