'AGT' Sword Swallower Hospitalized After 13-Blade Trick Goes Terribly Wrong


Sword-swallowing is one of those talents that’s (thankfully, for most people) rare. It’s daring, it’s exciting, and it’s nerve-wracking — because it’s dangerous.

Even professionals can have their goof-ups at times. Every time they perform in a new venue with a new crowd and in different physical conditions, there’s a possibility that something could go wrong.

Chris Steele, also known as Captain Steele, has been swallowing swords for a decade, and has appeared on shows like “America’s Got Talent” with his wife, who is also a performer. He’s never really had any major mishaps despite the risk, and on one particular occasion, he was pulling a stunt he’d pulled off over 100 times before.

Because swallowing only one sword loses its effect after a while, he upped it. To 13. And he knows that what happened could have easily taken his life.

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“It’s amazing I’m even alive,” he said, according to CBC. “It was a very close call. I like to say that possibly someone in the great midway in the sky was looking out for me, because it was a pretty rough accident.”

“I’m generally taking 13 swords and pushing down into my esophagus, and then I spin them 180 degrees and then pull them out.”

He chalked up the injury to the fact that he was already tired after completing several shows.

“I ended up doing the stunt, but it was in a venue that had very low ceilings,” he explained. “A lot of times when I am in a venue with low ceilings, I’ve dropped to one knee and I’m able to do it anyway. In this case I think a combination of exhaustion, of just not having [the] angle right and so forth, it happened.”

“… I pushed through the side wall of my esophagus and pushed it 16 inches down into my chest cavity, and then spun it 180 degrees and pulled it out and somehow avoided hurting any of my internal organs … it’s a miracle I’m even sitting here talking to you today.”

“… immediately, there was definitely a lot of blood on the swords. After that, I knew that something had happened, but I didn’t know if it happened inside my esophagus, or if I perforated my esophagus.”

“Within a half-hour of time, you could actually feel around my neck — we call them Rice Krispies. It’s when air gets under the skin. It’s kind of a crunchy Rice Krispies feeling. I know it’s kinda gross.”

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The fact that he was familiar enough with the phenomenon to have a name for it is unsettling enough, but it hasn’t dampened his spirits.

“It’s what I was born to do,” he said, referring to the fact that he was planning on continuing after getting a clean bill of health. “I have too much unfinished work.”

Whether he’s brave to continue or just reckless, he certainly has skill and a passion for what he does. Hopefully he won’t have any more incidents like this one!

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Amanda holds an MA in Rhetoric and TESOL from Cal Poly Pomona. After teaching composition and logic for several years, she's strayed into writing full-time and especially enjoys animal-related topics.
As of January 2019, Amanda has written over 1,000 stories for The Western Journal but doesn't really know how. Graduating from California State Polytechnic University with a MA in Rhetoric/Composition and TESOL, she wrote her thesis about metacognitive development and the skill transfer between reading and writing in freshman students.
She has a slew of interests that keep her busy, including trying out new recipes, enjoying nature, discussing ridiculous topics, reading, drawing, people watching, developing curriculum, and writing bios. Sometimes she has red hair, sometimes she has brown hair, sometimes she's had teal hair.
With a book on productive communication strategies in the works, Amanda is also writing and illustrating some children's books with her husband, Edward.
Austin, Texas
Languages Spoken
English und ein bißchen Deutsch
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Animals, Cooking