The
Jumps

The records and the crashes

Photo of Evel Knievel and his bike

Rattlesnakes & Mountain Lions

While trying to support his family, Knievel recalled the Joie Chitwood show he saw as a boy and decided that he could do something similar using a motorcycle. Promoting the show himself, Knievel rented the venue, wrote the press releases, set up the show, sold the tickets and served as his own master of ceremonies. After enticing the small crowd with a few wheelies, he proceeded to jump a twenty-foot-long box of rattlesnakes and two mountain lions. Despite landing short and having his back wheel hit the box containing the rattlesnakes, Knievel managed to land safely.

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The rattlesnakes actually went flying into the crowd when Knievel's wheel hit the tip of the box.

The Shark Tank

In January 1977, Knievel was scheduled for a major jump in Chicago, Illinois. The jump was inspired by the film, Jaws. Knievel was scheduled to jump a tank full of live sharks and would be televised live nationally. However, during his rehearsal, Knievel lost control of the motorcycle and crashed into a cameraman. Although Knievel broke his arms, he was more distraught over a permanent injury his accident caused to the cameraman (who lost his eye). The footage of this crash was so upsetting to Knievel, that he did not show the clip for 19 years until the documentary, Absolute Evel: The Evel Knievel Story.

After the failed shark jump, Knievel retired from major performances and limited his appearances to speaking only, rather than stunt riding, saying "a professional is supposed to know when he has jumped far enough."

Illustration of Knievel Jumping Left shark Right shark

Went in walking, Went out walking

After the Snake River jump, Knievel returned to motorcycle jumping with ABC Wide World of Sports televising several jumps. On May 26, 1975, in front of 90,000 people at Wembley Stadium in London, Knievel crashed while trying to land a jump over thirteen single-deck AEC Merlin buses. After the crash, despite breaking his back, Knievel addressed the audience and announced his retirement. Near shock and not yielding to Frank Gifford's (of ABC Wide World of Sports) plea to use a stretcher, Knievel walked off the Wembley field stating, "I came in walking, I went out walking!"

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"If you fall during your life it doesn't matter because you're never a failure if you try to get up."

Photo of Evel Knievel's Wembley Jump