John Payne is known as the “one-arm bandit” he’s a specialty act performer for the Last Chance Gulf Stampede. At 63 years young, Payne isn’t afraid to correct a reporter.
“I said April 19 I turned 53,” Payne said, “Ten years ago.”
The one-arm bandit’s charisma is only matched by his mouth, which started his career in 1988 at 34 years old.
“I told him his act was bland. There wasn’t anything to it,” Payne said. “He said, ‘We’ll let you be the entertainment next year.’”
He wasn’t paid for the show, but he found his calling. His name originates from an accident 14 years before his debut. While cutting 720-volt electrical wires, he touched one. His fingers burned off before he could let go, but that’s not what he remembers most.
“To see a man hovering over you – drooling and crying – it took me 40 years before I look him in the face again,” Payne said.
The near-death experience never damped his bright personality. This weekend you’ll see 14-time PRCA entertainer of the year perform with his mule and steer. The champ has no fear of his legacy.
“When can you say that you are the very best,” Payne asked aloud. “If you can’t say it at this point in my life, you’ll never be able to say it.”
He asked I not give away too much of his acts because he wants you to see it live. However, the bandit did make a guarantee.
"If you don’t think my show alone is worth the price of admission – and can convince my momma of that – heck, I’ll give you your money back,” Payne said.