A Las Vegas-based potato chip company paid $10K for a TV commercial that was exploiting the theft of a truck thinking it carried casino chips. The driver of the truck was forced to drive to a remote area. Bont was robbed of all the money he had on him after the bandits beat him up. Bont was able to pay off his gambling debts by inventing the theft.
Mark Twain said to never let the truth get in the way of a good story.
There is a persistent Vegas myth that dim-witted bandits robbed a Vegas Chips truck because they thought it carried casino chips. Brandishing knives, they jumped into the truck with the driver and forced him to drive it to a remote area. Bont was forced to open the back of the truck to reveal a bunch of sealed cardboard boxes.
One of the bandits ordered them to open up.
The bandits were angry when they saw the cargo was the kind of chips from Vegas. They robbed Bont of all the money he had on him after beating him up.
September 1992 was when the crime made national headlines. The media and the police both believed in the need for the public to help find the attackers. Vegas Chips paid $10K for a TV commercial campaign that exploited the crime.
An actor holding a newspaper in one hand and a bag of Vegas Chips in the other said, “Commandeering our trucks will only delay service to the stores.” That is not fair to other people. Our new slogan is, “You gotta hold them, not hold them up.”
There was a story that fell apart
Authorities cracked the case within a week. Bont, who had three previous theft-related felony convictions, was able to pay off his gambling debts by inventing the theft.
Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department lieutenant Carl Fruge told the Los Angeles Times in a story that ran in September of 1992 that they were glad it was not true.
The true story drew less attention than the fake one, which is why you can revisit it all over the internet. Vegas Chips continued to run its commercial after the hoax was exposed.
Kevin Holden, the former president of Vegas Chips, said last year that they still ran with the campaign. The story grew even bigger when it became a hoax. Because of that, we got into all the Smith grocery stores in Nevada and all the way up to Utah, and we actually got into all the Vons supermarkets in California.
The original Vegas Chips went out of business in the 90’s. A decade later, another company resurrected the name, but has since folded.
Mark Twain never said, “Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.” That is another myth. Kipling said in his 1899 collection of notes, letters, and essays called “From Sea to Sea” that “Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please.”
Every Friday on Casino.org, there is a feature called “Vegas Myths Busted”. Do you know a Vegas myth that can be used for busting? Corey@casino.org is a good place to send an email.