HELENA- An Oklahoma native and rodeo entertainer of the year is performing Thursday night at The Last Chance Stampede and Fair.

He calls himself the ‘One Armed Bandit’ and with one hand he can crack a bull whip and steer a horse with his legs.

John Payne has won entertainer of the year 14 years in a row and has performed across the world for over 30 years, but this is his first time performing in Helena, Montana.

“Helena, Montana you will not forget the one-armed bandit,” said Payne.

Story continues below

Payne lost his arm in a near death electrical accident in the early 70’s.vlcsnap-2016-07-28-16h23m32s680

“Everybody always asks ‘Well how did you get electrocuted? Or how did you get your arm cut off?’ I say well electrocution I received 72 hundred volts for 10 seconds,” said Payne.

It’s something he’s very comfortable talking about and even joking about.

“Well if it ain’t handy it’s just a hand,” said Payne.

The performer said the accident provided him with the perfect act for rodeos.

“The Lord had a plan for me, and I think it was entertaining at rodeo’s,” said Payne. 

Having just one arm doesn’t stop Payne from cracking a bull whip, guiding his longhorn steers and putting on an unforgettable show.

Although, from time to time there are some complications.

“One time I was doing a show in Georgia, and the mule bucked me off and kicked me in the arm, and this is just a plastic arm. It broke my strap, and my arm fell off right in the show right in front of 5,000 people,” admitted Payne. 

However, no matter what happens, The One Armed Bandit Show comes with a guarantee.

“If you don’t think my show alone is worth the price of a rodeo ticket and can convince my mama of that I’ll give you your money back,” said Payne. 

Click here for a list of other events at the fair.


Reporter: Sara Stinson