Win This Contest…And You Die
From Steer Of The Year To The Dinner Plate in Two Weeks
A Contest Where The Winning Bovine Gets A Trip To The Slaughterhouse
Reading old Life magazines, you can come across some unusual pictorials and stories. This graphically illustrated story from 1940 could lead you to vegetarianism. Unlike dog and cat shows, livestock shows don’t necessarily have a happy ending for the winner.
The Life story concerns a steer (a castrated male bull) ironically named “Lucky Boy II.” Below is the brief text and photographs from the January 8, 1940 issue.
In Chicago’s huge Stevens Hotel on Dec. 20, lovers of rare red meat smacked lips over the world’s most distinguished beef. Embowered in green vegetables. the steaks before them were fresh from the loins of Lucky Boy II, Grand Champion Steer of 1939, victor over 368 other cattle in Chicago’s annual International Livestock Exposition.
Here is the saga of Lucky Boy, who in a fast fortnight trod the path from glory to the grill:
His mother was a humble range animal. His father was a purebred Hereford. white-faced, red-coated. sleek and solid. From their union Lucky Boy was born 16 months ago in Mason County, Tex.
When he was two days old, he was sold for $35 to a lanky 4-H Club youth named Mayfield Kothmann. Kothmann tended him lovingly, fed him scientific mixtures of corn, cottonseed screenings. Lucky Boy grew quickly, evenly, gaining two pounds a day. Soon Kothmann saw Lucky Boy had what it takes to be grand champion (more than 65% edible meat). So together they journeyed to Chicago and the big show. Lucky Boy’s triumph was instant and immense.
First he conquered 124 Whiteface entries to win first prize in the Hereford class. On Dec. 5 he was chosen over 24 other finalists as champion of champions. He was admired, adored and auctioned to a com-mission house for $1,647 ($1.35 per lb.). Then abruptly like an ancient sacrificial victim, he was stripped of his ribbons and led away. On these images you see what befell unlucky Lucky Boy after that. (© Life Magazine)
In trying to find a positive thought to accompany this story was difficult. Maybe it’s this: the pictorial was not published in color.