Wild Las Vegas Contests

What can you say about the city that spun poker into an Olympic sport, turned Beer Pong into a blood sport, pinball into a wizard’s war and mechanical bull riding into a battle of manhood?
If it can be won, it can be wagered. Given a purse and put in the Guinness Book of World Records, it can happen in Las Vegas. Here is just a sampling of where to win your 15+ minutes of fame in outrageous Las Vegas smackdowns.

Get Your Buck on at Gilley¿s

It’s the tough guys who finish last in the Toughest Cowboy Competitions at Gilley’s on Thursday nights. There’s a $200 purse at stake plus sponsored giveaways by the bagful. The country saloon in front of Treasure Island typically signs up 15 to 20 guys who, from 11 pm until the wee hours, manage to drink themselves into a state of courage that persuades them to mount the mechanical bull and last longer than their competitors through a series of “heats,” or rounds in which the bucking action progressively intensifies. The women get their turn on Sunday nights in the Bikini Bullpen Contests, also going for a $200 prize plus swag for out-bucking each other while keeping their tiny costumes in place. Wardrobe malfunctions are strongly discouraged, although they do happen.

Hot 100 at Wet Republic

Las Vegas is not just a hot town; it’s a hottie town where every girl strives to expose her inner Kardashian. The family of sisters who famously hit most of the pool scenes on the Strip have set a new standard of bathing beauty amid Las Vegas’ exploding day life offerings, now celebrated each summer with bikini-clad throngs vying to be among the loveliest 100. It’s not quite a beauty pageant. Rather, it’s a 12-week competition juried by votes from celebrity judges, event attendees and online voting at SpyOnVegas.com. Top prize is $100,000 down to $1,000 prizes for the 18th, 19th and 20th most beautiful bikini vixens. The finale takes the stage the last weekend of June at Wet Republic.

Hot Wing Wars

Hotties who like hot wings are invited to try their luck at downing the dish at Hot Chicks and Hot Wings contests held at Monte Carlo’s Diablo’s Cantina. Pre-picked diva diners compete to see who can down the most hot wings for a $2,500 prize, all aided by complimentary shots of tequila.

Battle of the Bowls

This is the ultimate showcase for chefs of waterpipe tobacco mixtures within a growing presence of hookah havens in Sin City. At the Xclusive Ultra Lounge & Café just east of the Strip, bowl chefs pay $200 to enter and participants pay $20 to watch as judges score based on quality in 5 categories: range of tastes and flavor, the hit, smoothness, smokiness and creative bowl naming. To find out more call (702) 836-9488.

World Championships of Beer Pong

The $50,000 grand prize ensures plenty of tough dunks as each team plays through the 4-day throw down to make the top 160 teams for the final rounds. Typically, Beer Pong is a bar game in which players throw a ping pong ball across a table with the intent of landing the ball in a cup of beer on the other end. If the ball lands in a cup, then the contents of that cup are consumed and the cup is eliminated. First team to wipe out all the opponent’s cups wins. It’s held at the Flamingo Hotel in January.

Pinball Hall of Fame

This unassuming pinball paradise is practice central for the world championships held on occasion at this spot and venues around the country. Lights flash and sensors beep among 250 quarter machines in action more than 12 hours a day. It’s one of the few places where pinball pros can get a workout and complete in cut-throat button-pushing contests.

Lark Ellen Gould is a journalist who focuses on culture trends and curiosities in Las Vegas. She has written more than 5 books about the city.

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