VEGAS NEAR MYTHS: Stories So Wild, They Seem Fake, But Aren’t

Posted on: February 19, 2024, 08:17h. 

Last updated on: February 19, 2024, 03:15h.

Today’s “Vegas Myths Busted” edition is different. In the nearly two years we’ve published this weekly series, we’ve investigated many wild stories that we knew had to be myths.

Most of the time, we were right. This is how we put to rest such widely held Vegas beliefs as the bodies buried inside Hoover Dam, the casino that Howard Hughes bought just to dim its sign so he could sleep, and, of course, the extra oxygen that casinos pump onto their floors to keep gamblers awake. (Well, we tried putting them to rest, anyway.)

Some such stories ended up, quite insanely, being true. Below are four of those stories, two of which happen to involve Howard Hughes and the Hoover Dam.

Welcome to “Vegas Near Myths,” an occasional series spotlighting Vegas stories that are just as true as they are unbelievable.

One Peach of a Banana Nut

a photo of Howard Hughes in his bed at the Desert Inn
AI created this image when asked to generate a photo of Howard Hughes in his bed at the Desert Inn surrounded by 350 containers of ice cream. (Image: Chat GPT)

Billionaire Howard Hughes may have been a genius or a madman. Or both. But he was definitely someone who loved life’s simple pleasures. One of them was ice cream — Baskin-Robbins, in particular.

Hughes always fixated on one flavor at a time, according to Paul Winn, Hughes’ director of corporate records from 1957 through Hughes’ death in 1976. And for a good chunk of the four years that Hughes resided in a penthouse at the Desert Inn — which Winn insists he never left once, by the way — that flavor was peach.

“The aides were running low and went to the store to purchase some more, but Baskin-Robbins had discontinued the flavor,” Winn told 

According to Winn, they called the ice cream company’s then-headquarters in Glendale, Calif., and discovered that a minimum order was 350 gallons.

“So they had 350 gallons shipped to the Desert Inn,” Winn recalled. “That took up a lot of freezer space.”

Within a day or two, Hughes had an announcement to make to his staff.

“He had grown tired of that flavor and wanted another flavor,” Winn recalled.

As a result, for about a year, the Desert Inn gave away free peach ice cream to all its dinner guests and anyone else who wanted it.

“They needed the freezer space,” Winn said.

In 2000, former Desert Inn manager Burton Cohen told essentially the same story to the Las Vegas Sun, only the ice cream flavor was different.

“I want to say it was banana nut, but it doesn’t matter,” Cohen said. As a result, however, most of the versions of this story circulating today state the flavor definitively as banana nut.

According to Winn, though, the flavor did matter, and “it was peach.”

The Statue of Liability

When the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) debuted its latest “Forever” stamps in December 2010, one featured a closeup of the Statue of Liberty. Only, something was amiss.

The stamp featured the replica that fronts Las Vegas’ New York-New York casino resort, not the one occupying New York Harbor since 1886.

It’s easy to see how much smoother the replica Lady Liberty’s skin is, at right, and how much more defined her eyes are. (Image at left: Getty)

The blunder was made by Terrence McCaffrey, the manager in charge of choosing images for new stamps. According to multiple reports, he was bored of the image of the statue the post office had already used on 23 other stamps. So he searched a stock photo database for other suitable photos.

Neither McCaffrey nor anyone else at the post office noticed the gaffe. It hadn’t even occurred to them to check for one. Because of the low angle from which the photo was snapped, the rails of the New York-New York roller coaster didn’t give the blunder away.

Once McCaffrey made his photo choice, he paid $1,200 to Getty Images for the license to use it as a stamp. But that wouldn’t be enough to protect the federal agency from legal action.

Three months after the stamp was rolled out, and 3 billion copies had already been printed, an employee of another stock photo company noticed the screw-up and notified the post office.

In November 2013, Robert Davidson filed suit in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. That’s because he was the sculptor of the Las Vegas replica.

The Vegas native completed his statue in 1996 for MGM Resorts International, which opened New York-New York a year later. In addition to the genuine Lady Liberty, which is twice as tall, Davidson drew inspiration from photos of his own mother-in-law as a young woman. The sculptor argued that the stamp infringed on his original and protected artwork.

The mistake became not just a stupid one for USPS, but a costly one. In 2018, a federal judge sided with Davidson, ordering the post office to pay him $3.5M.

“A comparison of the two faces unmistakably shows that they are different,” Judge Eric Bruggink wrote.

It took 4.5M cubic yards of concrete to build the Hoover Dam, or enough to build a two-lane road from Seattle to Miami. (Image: Bureau of Reclamation)

Hoover Dam’s Concrete is Still Curing

Yes, the concrete used to build Hoover Dam is still hardening 88 years after the engineering marvel opened.

Curing, it turns out, is an exponentially decreasing process. Not unlike the half-life of radioactivity, there will always be a little more concrete left to cure until that amount becomes undetectable.

“Though the subject is a matter of some debate, it is estimated that it will fully cure in about 125 years by natural means,” Doug Hendrix, public affairs specialist with the Bureau of Water Reclamation, told

But this one will be a myth in 2061.

At the time, Steve Wynn wasn’t thinking he could fall from anything. (Image: Wynn Resorts)

Steve Wynn Sat on His Own Hotel

The 2005 TV commercial where Steve Wynn stood atop Wynn Las Vegas, 614 feet off the ground, wasn’t a product of CGI. Nor was the one he filmed three years year, in which he sat with his feet dangling off the edge of Encore.

In fact, to prove Wynn was really up there, he hired director Brett Ratner to produce a behind-the-scenes documentary showing the preparations for the second shoot.

After a sex abuse scandal erupted around its former owner in 2018, Wynn Resorts deleted the video from its website and social media accounts, along with all other traces of their company’s namesake.

However, the clip always pops back up somewhere on YouTube.

“Vegas Near Myths” will be an occasional series featuring Vegas stories that seem like myths but aren’t. Got a good one to report? Email