By Evan Bleier / March 5, 2019

“Cowboy Pinball” Is the Dangerous Craze Sweeping the Rodeo Circuit

When the bull-baiting contest goes wrong, contestants get the horns.

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 23:  Silvano Alves rides bull Hard & Fast during the Professional Bull Riders Iron Cowboy presented by Ariat on February 23, 2019, at the Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Chris Elise/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 23: Silvano Alves rides bull Hard & Fast during the Professional Bull Riders Iron Cowboy presented by Ariat on February 23, 2019, at the Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Chris Elise/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

A new craze known as “Cowboy Pinball” is sweeping the rodeo circuit and putting participants in danger.

During the event, contestants stand inside chalk circles and a bull is released into the arena. The bull will often charge at the contestants and the winner of the contest is the last person to leave their space. The prize for the winner is typically about $100.

Here’s what happens when Cowboy Pinball goes wrong.

Ben Prilwetz, a rodeo promoter in Missouri, said he gets at least six volunteers for each of the 12 Cowboy Pinball events he stages each year.  In his estimation, 90 percent of the volunteers consume alcohol before signing waivers and stepping into the ring, according to USA TODAY.

“Tons of crazy people out there,’’ said Prilwetz. “I’m a retired professional bullfighter, and that’s still probably the only way I would do it, with some Pendleton Whiskey.’’

The event traces its roots back to the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, Louisiana. During the penitentiary’s annual prison rodeo, there’s a contest called Convict Poker where four inmates sit around a card table before a fighting bull is released into the arena. The last inmate to leave his seat wins $100.

“The events are used across the country to help spice up bull ridings and rodeos, especially in smaller markets,” according to USA TODAY.

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