You Can Have A Ball At The Angola Prison Rodeo

Okay, you may want to sit down for this. Not that anybody ever reads the web while standing up or anything, but… you’re going to have to brace yourself all the same. This is a story about something that’s kinda cool, then it’s going to get a little too real in here. I’m talking about the Angola Prison Rodeo.

Man holding tomato
(Why are we showing this picture? Oh, no reason. None at all. Certainly not foreshadowing any horror to come.)

The above term is a little misleading, in that in this case, “Angola” isn’t the impoverished country in southern Africa, but the nickname of the largest Louisiana state penitentiary. Angola holds over 5,000 inmates, and when you have that many people and 18,000 acres to work with, well, imaginations run wild. So, as REAL SPORTS on HBO reports, they hold a rodeo every year (seriously), with animals and everything. All the proceeds go to prison programs, so that’s pretty cool. There are, however, some drawbacks, and brave readers will click through the jump to ruin their lunches.

Is the rodeo safe for the prisoners? Not necessarily. One prisoner described an encounter with a bull on camera, saying, “His horn hooked me right up under my testicles, ripped them, and I looked down and both of my testicles were hanging in my hand. I mean, it wasn’t torn off from the body but they were just hanging in the skin. I looked at them and that’s when I felt the pain.”


Anyway, now that that’s over with. The entire event has a distinct “Roman Gladiators” feel to it; NOLA.COM tells readers that “the inmates perform the rodeo, just for your pleasure.” All of the typical rodeo events are involved, along with one feature that, well, seems about perfect for a prison rodeo.

Again, quoting NOLA.COM, ” ‘Gut’s [sic] and Glory’ makes inexperienced inmates retrieve a poker chip from the meanest and toughest Brahma bull available.” Now, we’re hoping, desperately in fact, that the “guts” referenced have to do with the inmates’ bravery and do not in any way involve retrieving that poker chip from the intestines of the bull. Someone please tell us it doesn’t go that far. Please. Oh, wait, here’s the official site’s explanation: “A chit (poker chip) is tied to the meanest, toughest Brahma bull available.  The object here is to get close enough to the bull in order to snatch the chit.” That’s a little better, if still extremely freaking life-threatening.

Anyway, yeah. Louisiana prisoners in a rodeo. Angry death machines with poker chips tied to them. Your day’s different now, isn’t it? Balls flying everywhere. Yeah, so’s mine. I think I need to lie down for a while.