There’s no question that king of country Garth Brooks will be paid more money than any other entertainer in the history of Las Vegas show business during his new, five-year tenure at casino mogul Steve Wynn’s Encore Theater in the Wynn. In addition to the whopping salary, Steve also threw in a luxury $15 million Challenger 604 11-seater private super jet to clinch the deal.
I’m still slowly unraveling all the financial terms for a story later this week to go alongside our interviews with Garth, his country singer wife Trisha Yearwood and hotel tycoon Steve. Suffice to say that over the five-year contract, Garth will play to some 6,000 audience members each week of the 15 weekends a year (that’s 90,000 people), which will bring in, at $125 a ticket, an annual take of $11 million, which equals a $55-million haul during the entire run.
Laughed Garth: “I told him he couldn’t afford me, but I was wrong. Now for the first time, I’ve actually got a boss. I don’t think he’s actually making money off this. He looks at it as a collector of art.”
Steve told me: “I told him if at any time he wasn’t happy over the full five years, he could just give me 30 days notice and quit. I only want him here if he’s happy, and how can he not be happy with this deal?
“I’m not going to lose money on this. Look, I can give the audience a treat they can’t get anywhere else in the world. The charisma of this place when you have a guy like Garth, my casino is alive -- the town becomes alive. I’m making a bet that I’ll break even or win. I certainly won’t lose money on his show. I was a couple of bucks short on ticket sales for the four nights of Beyonce, but our casino win one night was $24 million. A couple of guys play a couple of million, and that will happen in two seconds with this guy.”
So what will Garth do with his near $60 million windfall earned in Las Vegas? After he left here and returned home to his farm in Owasso, Okla., he let drop one massive hint. Garth was inducted into the Oklahoma State University Alumni Hall of Fame and served as grand marshal for the Sea of Orange Parade over the weekend.
Said Garth: “The arrangement with Mr. Wynn is that he is the boss, and when he grabs you by the neck and says ‘sic ’em,’ that’s what I’m going to do. I am going to give back to my school. It will be spectacular, and I want the world to take notice of the university’s greatness. I want to spotlight all areas of the university, not just the focus on football. This place has everything your kids want and everything parents want. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
“College is an important formative time. Students are reared here with common sense. My cowboy convictions are so strong that my daughter will have full freedom to select the school of her choice, but she will have to find a way to pay for it if she decides to go anywhere else other than my alma mater.”
Philanthropists at OSU have included oil billionaire T. Boone Pickens and coach Mike Gundy. I’m told Garth plans to exceed their incredible contributions! Garth added: “The school’s spirit song is a brilliant statement about what it means to have orange flow through your veins. I am a Cowboy forever!”
Garth told his friends at the Oklahoma festivities that he is still a strong believer in affordable ticket prices for fans. He said if some consider the Las Vegas prices to be unaffordable, he plans to offer more reasonably priced shows in the future, but Wynn’s Encore Theater is the best sound stage he’s ever worked in such an intimate venue with 1,500 fans so close for the weekend engagements.
His premiere performance here is on Dec. 11 during National Finals Rodeo activities, and tickets through the February shows will go on sale for the first time at 8 a.m. Saturday. Garth will play one show on Fridays, two on Saturdays and one on Sundays so he can be with his daughters Monday through Friday in keeping to the promise he made to them when he retired from touring nine years ago. That’s where that luxury private jet comes in, and we’ve got all those details upcoming, too.
We’ll have our three intimate conversations with Steve, Trisha and the superstar who is the biggest-selling solo performer in music history later this week!
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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