In an age of small, endless choices and a few spectacles, the fast-paced violence of the NFL has come to dominate television in the U.S. Key to the adrenaline rush is, of course, gambling in its many forms, ubiquitous in our decentralized age. Jimmy “the Greek” Snyder, the ego-driven Vegas oddsmaker, did as much as anyone in the pre-Internet Era to legitimize gambling in America, to prep us for what was to come. The point-spread playa lived for decades on the edge before going over it, crapping out thanks to jaw-dropping bigoted comments. Come to think of it, not only has his yen for wagering reached its fullest expression in our time, but his disqualifying ethnic remarks have sadly entered into our mainstream politics.
In addition to his casino and TV work, “the Greek” did public relations for the eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes, who essentially buried himself alive. From a 1974 People article:
What do you do for a living?
Jimmy the Greek:
Basically, I’m a PR man. I have a firm called Jimmy the Greek’s Public Relations, Inc. We have offices in Las Vegas and Miami, 19 people on the staff, and we gross about $800,000 a year, representing companies like National Biscuit Company—the candy division—and Aurora Toys. For three-and-a-half years, I handled PR for Howard Hughes.
What did you do for Hughes?
Jimmy the Greek:
Different things. Hughes was opposed to atomic testing so close to Las Vegas. Every time there was a megaton-plus test, the windows of the hotel shook, and there were already cracks in some of the buildings. He didn’t want the people he brought to Vegas hurt. Mostly, he was afraid of the radiation. Mr. Maheu, his manager, would call and say, ‘Mr. Hughes is against megaton-plus testing, Jimmy.’ And I’d say, ‘Well, what else?’ And he’d say, ‘That’s it, Jimmy.’ And you were on your own from there on. I was very happy working for him. And $175,000 a year isn’t hay.•
“We are saddened that our 12-year association with him ended this way.”