Andre the Giant

Tales of the Virgil Pt. 4: How Much Did The Million Dollar Belt Cost?

So there we were in Stosh's basement. Stosh, myself, Michael Sorg our cameraman, and WWE Legend Virgil had just finished shooting our first music video for Kayfabe (check it out here). We proceeded to shoot the shit, and by shooting the shit I mean listen to Virgil tell epic stories from the 80's. Well, after a third round of hearing about shitty pay days in Memphis, I finally got a word in edgewise, and asked the one question that had been on my mind since we met this morning...

"Thanks Virgil, can I ask you a question man?" I asked knowing it might be a good time to change the subject.

"Anything brother"

"So, did the million dollar belt really cost a million dollars?"

"It cost $968,000.00, and in the 80's that was a lot of money. You know how much that would be in today's money?"

"No idea man, probably a shit ton"

"$20 MILLION dollars"


"Well it would have been $20 million If the gold market hadn't gone to shit last year.  They keep it at the WWE towers in the lobby, a pair of armed security guards lock it up every night in a safe when they close.  The safe lives in the basement, its too heavy to be anywhere else, and instead of key cards they use fingerprints to get in and out.  The only way to steal it is to cut a hand off of either Vince McMahon or one of the security guards."


"Any other questions, brother"

"Naw man, that's all need to know."

Fact Checking


Let's address the elephant in the room: how much is $968,000.00 adjusted for inflation?  Here is the math:

FutureValue = Principle (1 + Interest / CompoundingFrequency) ^ CompoundingFrequency*Time

Naturally, this doesn’t take into account possible fluctuations in gold and diamond prices that could cause the overall value of the belt to increase or decrease dramatically above or below the inflation rate, but assuming a reasonable inflation rate of 5%, the value of the belt today would be (Virgil drum roll):

$3,794,685.01. Hey that is still a lot of money, but not quite $20 million.  

Then there is this Wikipedia entry; which completely refutes the $968K million dollar belt and puts the value of the belt in 1988 at around $125K. This lower cost is because wikipedia alleges the belt was only gold plated and the diamonds were all cubic zirconia. Still, this CZ gold plated behemoth of a belt built today would run you about $490,016.14, and hey, that’s still a lot of money. But the $490,016.14 dollar man doesn't quite have the same ring as the MILLION DOLLAR MAN, now does it? 


Tales of the Virgil Pt. 2: Led Zeppelin

Midway through the shoot, Virgil turns to us and asks us if we like Led Zeppelin.

“Yeah, Led Zeppelin is awesome. Do you like Led Zeppelin?”

Virgil says: “Yeah," and then after a beat "we should listen to Led Zeppelin.”

“Right now?” I ask. 

“Yeah, put on some Led Zeppelin,” Virgil pointed a drumstick at Elliot. Elliot was right in the middle of queuing up Kayfabe again. Elliot turned and stared at Virgil through his wraparound geriatric blublockers. There was a pause as Elliot, Sorg, and I all looked at each other--thinking the same thing. Who was going to break the news?

“Well, Virgil, we’re shooting a music video for MaxXouT right now,” Sorg says. “And we need to have the video line up with the music that’s playing, so we can’t really play along to Led Zeppelin right now. We have to play along to their song Kayfabe.”

Virgil shrugged, nodded and returned to the slapping the drums with his sticks. I hoped his next move would be to play the John Bonham solo in Bonzo’s Montreaux note-for-note, every ratamacue, every paradiddle, every roll and fill, with Elliot, Sorg, and I watching him awestruck. That would’ve been awesome. We would’ve toured the world, and ended every show with an hour long drum solo, cymbals on fire, Virgil spinning upside down in his drum throne, actual chasms opening up in the core of the earth as our rock couldn't be contained! It would've been so fitting, full circle! One of the 2 books of sheet music I used to teach myself to play guitar was Led Zeppelin's brown bomber. I listened to that album for an entire summer, learned each song note-for-note, listened to it so many times I can't listen to any of those songs ever again. But, I'd even play Living Love Maid if Virgil could pound the skins like that drunken English countryman, Bonzo, the Beast.

Instead, Virgil stuck the action figure of himself into the hi-hat, like the hi-hat was a giant mouth. He hit the peddle to make it look like the hi-hat was eating up the plastic version of himself and made screaming noises. We all laughed.

Tales of the Virgil Pt. 1: Real, Live Crocodiles

Crocodile Mile

Crocodile Mile

I have a taxidermied mounted crocodile head (who doesn’t) set up where we shot the video. Usually it wears an old school Riddell Green Bay Packer helmet or my Elvis sunglasses and sits on top of a bookshelf in the corner. The day of the music video, we realized it could be an eye-catching, weird visual element to add, so we perched the crocodile head on top of my guitar amp. We decided to have Virgil hit it with drum sticks at one point, though I don’t believe that footage made the cut (see the full video here). But, the crocodile head isn't the star of this story, it's the conversation that it inspired. In between filming shots Virgil turned to me and said:

“You guys need to do crazy shit when you play live. You need to blow people’s minds. You should get a real live crocodile and have it come out on stage right when you’re jamming.”

Virgil did some air guitar, actually more air bass to really drive the point home at this juncture. I readily agreed with these suggestions not because I agreed but just to see what would happen next if I pulled the string.

“I’ve been in show business for thirty years. You gotta blow people’s minds!” Virgil continued. “But, you should probably keep that crocodile in a cage because you wouldn’t want it biting anybody. You know, that’d cost a lot, there’d be a lot of legal fees.”

Shit, it’s craziest enough to work. Anybody have any live crocodiles out there I can borrow?