Professional Bull Riders
|Competitors||Over 1,200 total, 35 in highest ranked tour|
|Countries|| United States|
The Professional Bull Riders, Inc. (PBR) is an international professional bull riding organization based in Pueblo, Colorado, United States. In the United States, Professional Bull Riders (PBR) events have been televised on CBS and CBS Sports Network since 2012. In 2013, the PBR and CBS signed a contract that extended CBS Sport's partnership with PBR, making them the primary sports broadcaster for PBR. More than 600 cowboys from the United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Australia and other countries hold PBR memberships.
The organization began in 1992 through the efforts of 20 professional bull riders who gathered in a hotel room in Scottsdale, Arizona and each contributed $1,000. This group of riders were seeking to break away from traditional rodeo and gain better recognition for rodeo's most popular event. "We wanted to create a better product for the fans, so that when they tuned in they were seeing the best of the best every time," said PBR co-founder and nine-time World Champion Ty Murray. Murray later served as the president. In 2007, investment firm Spire Capital Partners acquired a majority stake in PBR and turned those founders’ $1,000 into millions. In April 2015, Endeavor (formerly WME | IMG), a global leader in several industries, bought the PBR.
Since the beginning of the first tour in 1994 with the Bud Light Cup Series (BLC), the organization has grown into three tours which stage over 300 events in the United States every year. Prize money had exploded from over $330,000 in 1994 to over $11 million in 2008.
The original CEO of the PBR was Sam Applebaum. Randy Bernard became CEO of the PBR in 1995, a position he held until he resigned in 2010 to become the CEO of INDYCAR. When Bernard took over the position of CEO in 1995, it was just after the conclusion of the first World Finals in Las Vegas, Nevada. At that time, the PBR's bank account held $8,000. It was $140,000 in debt. Bernard, a bold and wise businessman, quickly went to work. At the end of his first year, he turned things around. The World Finals paid out $1 million, and increased to $1.5 million in 1999. That same year, the World Finals were moved to the Thomas & Mack Center and the event grew to be the most famed one in bull riding. Then in 2016, the finals moved again when the new T-Mobile Arena was completed.
In 1996, the PBR made bull riding protective vests, which were introduced three years earlier, mandatory for all contestants at their events.
In 2003, the Bud Light Cup Series became the Built Ford Tough Series (BFTS). Then the PBR started paying its world champions a $1 million bonus. Chris Shivers was the first world champion to claim that bonus.
In 2005, the PBR opened offices in Canada, Mexico, Brazil and Australia to produce events in said countries starting the next year.
On February 23, 2011, the PBR announced that Jim Haworth had become its new CEO. Then on June 29, 2015, the PBR announced that Haworth was promoted to Chairman, while COO Sean Gleason had become the new CEO.
In 2013, the PBR made it mandatory that all contestants at their events who were born on or after October 15, 1994 ride with a full bull riding helmet. Those born before that date were grandfathered in and permitted to ride with a protective face mask underneath their cowboy hat or simply with their cowboy hat if so desired.
By 2018, the PBR had grown into a global organization which has awarded over $180 million in prize money. The PBR turned 25 in 2018 and awarded another $11 million in prize money which included the bonus to the World Champion Bull Rider of $1 million and the $20,000 gold belt buckle. That same year, the PBR launched RidePass; its own subscription-based video on demand service that live-streams American and international PBR events.
The PBR hosted its inaugural World Finals in 1994 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. They remained at the arena until 1998. In 1999, the PBR moved their World Finals to the Thomas & Mack Center. The PBR was stretching its current arena's limits and really needed a bigger arena. They wanted to stay in Las Vegas, so the Thomas & Mack Center was the place to go. The PBR World Finals was held at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, from 1999 until 2015. The 2015 World Finals was the 17th and last time the event was hosted at the venue. In 2016, the PBR moved their World Finals event from the Thomas & Mack Center to the T-Mobile Arena on the Las Vegas Strip. In 2020, as a result of COVID-19 and Nevada state restrictions on large events, the PBR World Finals have been temporarily located at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
More than 600 cowboys from the United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Australia, and other countries hold PBR memberships. These bull riders compete on over 300 televised events around the world. Every bull rider's dream is to qualify for the PBR World Finals. The champion receives a $1 million bonus and a $20,000 belt buckle. There are 1,200 or more bull riders who compete in competitions sanctioned by the PBR in five countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, Mexico and the United States.
The PBR has become one of the most globally successful television sports programs. The PBR elite tour is televised weekly on CBS Sports, CBS Sports Network, and other networks around the globe. PBR television broadcasts now reach half a billion households in 130 territories around the world. A new digital network named RidePass that will start in February 2018 will add hundreds of hours of bull riding and other western sports to anytime availability.
From 2007 to 2010, the PBR also hosted a team competition format called the PBR World Cup, where 25 bull riders (altogether representing five countries) competed to win the title of best bull rider in the world. In 2017, a new event, the PBR Global Cup, again offers bull riders a chance to compete in a five country competition. This new event is a different format from the PBR World Cup; it's not a continuation of the old event. It's staged annually across five countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, Mexico and United States. National team riders are matched against the best of each. The home country is granted a competitive advantage. It's a series that visits each nation each year and continues until one nation holds all five pieces of the Global Cup—including the native soil of each territory. Thus, only one country can claim The Toughest Nation on Dirt.
Total viewership, including event attendees and the television audience, grew 52 percent between 2002 and 2004. In 2004, 16.4 million fans watched or attended a PBR event. By 2008, over 100 million watched the PBR on television, and over 1.7 million attended a live event. In 1995 roughly 310,000 fans attended an event. Now, around 3 million fans attend a live event.
Since 2006, Canada, Brazil, Australia, and Mexico have each had their own PBR tours, and points earned on those tours count towards the U.S. qualifier standings and a spot in the PBR World Finals. In 2014, a PBR-sanctioned event was held in New Zealand.
A qualified ride is worth up to 100 points. That is, 50 points for the rider and 50 points for the bull when he successfully rides the bull for 8 seconds. An event has four judges. Each judge may award up to 25 points. Two judges score the rider, and two judges score the bull. All of the judge's scores are tallied together. That figure is divided by two for the official score. One-half of the possible score is based on the bull's performance. The two judge's score the bull on how rank he is (difficult to ride). Two judges score the rider on how proficient he is. The rider has to stay on top of the bull for 8 seconds. The rider has to ride with one free hand. He is disqualified if he touches himself or the bull with his free arm. Any ride that is scored 90 points or higher is deemed exceptional. The highest score in the PBR 96.5 points, which is shared by three riders. Each elite series always has four judges. At the end of each event, the top 15 riders compete in the Championship Round (sometimes call the short round or short go); the rider with the highest point total from the entire event becomes the winner.
Unleash the Beast Series
Starting in 2018, the elite series, or premier series, tour changed sponsors and the Unleash the Beast tour name (UTB) replaced the Built Ford Tough Series tour name. The UTB opens at Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York, in January every season as always. The UTB series is where the best riders and bulls compete, and it culminates in the PBR World Finals at the end of the year, which have taken place in Las Vegas, Nevada, for the last 26 years. However, in 2020, due to COVID-19 restrictions, the finals have been temporarily relocated to AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Previous finals were held at the MGM Grand Garden Arena from 1994 to 1998, the Thomas & Mack Center from 1999 to 2015, and T-Mobile Arena from 2016 to 2019.
Since 2014, The Velocity Tour features young and up-coming talent competing against the established talent of the sport. The tour brings events to cities across the U.S. that are not included in the UTB series. The Finals usually take place at the South Point Hotel’s arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, just before the PBR World Finals each year. During 2020, due to COVID-19 restrictions, the finals have been temporarily moved to the Denny Sanford Premier Center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
The Velocity Tour offers the chance to earn points to attempt to qualify for the UTB series and the PBR World Finals. Additionally, every winner of a Velocity Tour regular-season event will be seeded at one UTB event during the season, providing another opportunity for the PBR's newer talent to increase their position in the overall world standings.
Touring Pro Division
On January 1, 2010, the PBR announced a new minor tour. This new tour, the Touring Pro Division, replaced the Challenger, Enterprise, and Discovery Tours. Like the lower-level tours it replaced, it offers up-and-coming bull riders and others not in UTB events the ability to compete in PBR events so they can attempt to earn points to qualify for the elite series and the PBR World Finals.
U.S. Television & Streaming
1993-2002: The Nashville Network (TNN) began televising a small number of PBR-sanctioned events in 1993. The following year, the PBR had its first official season that included a year-end world finals event with TNN remaining the organization's official channel. TNN changed its name from The Nashville Network to The National Network late in the 2000 season. After the 2001 season, a special PBR event was televised on NBC. The last regular season event of 2002 was televised on CBS. TNN remained the PBR's primary channel into the 2002 season.
2003-2012: The PBR was now primarily televised on the Outdoor Life Network (OLN) with select events being televised on NBC. From 2003 to 2006, select events were also televised on Telemundo. In the middle of the 2006 season, OLN changed its name to Versus and it remained the PBR's primary channel into the 2011 season. The last regular season event of 2007 was televised on Fox. In 2012, CBS Sports Network became the PBR's primary channel, while CBS broadcast network televised the 15/15 Bucking Battles; a new competition that featured the top 15 PBR riders at the time of competition against 15 of the top PBR bulls in a select regular-season event that gave the riders an opportunity to earn additional points. That same year, Versus became NBC Sports Network and select PBR events were also televised on said channel.
2013–present: CBS Sports Network televises the regular season events and the world finals, while CBS broadcast network televises the 15/15 Bucking Battles. In 2018, the PBR launched RidePass; its own subscription-based video-on-demand service that live-streams American and international PBR events, as well as events for other rodeo organizations such as the World Champions Rodeo Alliance (WCRA), the United States Team Roping Championships (USTRC) and the National High School Rodeo Association (NHSRA). PBR events are also live-streamed on the subscription-based video-on-demand service, FloRodeo, owned by FloSports.
The PBR web site tracks many statistics regarding the performances of bull riders and bulls during the season and throughout its history. There is the 90-Points Club, which has been tracking rides that have been scored over 90 points since 1998. Then there is the high marked bull ride statistic, which has been tracked for many seasons. Each season it tracks the highest bull scores throughout and until the Finals have concluded. And then there is the all time money earners statistic, which tallies the bull riders in order of whom has earned the most money in their careers. Additionally, the success rate for an 8-second ride was 46 percent in 1995, had dropped to 26 percent by 2012, then climbed roughly 3 percent to about 29 percent for 2017 and 2018. This lower modern rate has been attributed to the selective breeding of bulls.
90 Point Club
In 2002, the U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company developed the original 90 Point Club. Each contestant who scored 90 or more at a Bud Light Cup Series event shared in bonus money of $90,000. The money was distributed after the world finals event. It was divided equally by all the qualified rides. The competitor with the most 90 point rides received an additional bonus of $10,000. That competitor also became the 90 Point Club Champion. In 2003, it was added that for each 90 point ride that a bull makes, the stock contractor received $1,000. For that $1,000, half came from U.S. Smoked Tobacco Company and half came from B&W Hitches.
The first statistic kept is the most 90 points rides since 1998. Chris Shivers has held first place for a very long time with 94 rides. Justin McBride has held second place also for a long time with second place at 74 rides. J.B. Mauney will catch second place soon with 72 rides. Guilherme Marchi holds fourth place with 51 rides, and Adriano Moraes is at fifth place with 47. Moraes is retired, so his number will stay the same. New this year for 2018 are the most 90 point rides in 2018 and the contractor 90 point rides in 2018. Lastly, are the historic 90 points rides trailing all the way back to 1998. They are ordered by the highest to lowest ride score. The rides list the rider, the bull, the contractor, the location, and the ride score. The highest score, which has not changed in some time, is 96.5 points, which has been achieved four times. The mark was originally set by Bubba Dunn, who rode Promise Land (owned by Terry Williams) in Tampa, Florida, for the record score in 1999. Two of these rides were achieved by Chris Shivers, one on Jim Jam (owned by Logan & Williams) in Tampa, Florida, in 2000, and then one on Dillinger (owned by Herrington Cattle Company), in Las Vegas, Nevada, in 2001. The most recent instance was Michael Gaffney on Little Yellow Jacket (owned by Berger Bucking Bulls) in Nampa, Idaho, in 2004.
High Marked Bull
These statistics keep track of the current season's elite tour event's high marked bulls. B.O.T. stands for buck off time. Each event has a high-marked bull. The top 100 bulls scores are also tracked here.
All Time Money Earners
The all time moneys show off the PBR's claim that they have changed bull riding into a real sport that does more than just pay the riders' fees. PBR bull riders make a true living, and many are millionaires several times over. Two-time world champion bull rider J.B. Mauney has earned the most money of any rider, over $7 million. He is followed by Silvano Alves, the three–time champion bull rider at 5,959,760.58. And in third place is Guilherme Marchi with $5,262,764.26.
Wrangler High Marked Ride
Circa 2003, there was a contest where Wrangler used to reward the rider with the highest marked ride at the majority of BFTS events. If there was a tie, both riders were awarded. 
Salem National Lease High Mark Bull Bonus
Circa 2010, the High Mark Bull Bonus was paid to the stock contractor of the bull. The bonus was designated to the bull who received the high bull score at each BFTS event. The bonus amount was a weekly amount of $1,250. The PBR BFTS Finals were excluded.
RMEF Trophy Bull Challenge
In 2010, the challenge was added. It was a season long challenge. All BFTS events and the World Finals were included. Cody Lambert selected three bulls from every long round. If the bull bucked the rider off, the stock contractor received one point. If the rider achieved a successful ride, the rider received a point. The winners of the Challenge, the top three riders and stock contractors with the most points received an RMEF outdoor adventure of their choice, which happened at the end of the season.
Mossy Oak Shoot Out
Starting with the 2000 season, this event was a bonus ride that was featured the first night of each two-day BLC/BFTS event. The Shoot Out matched up the event's first-round winner against a prearranged bucking bull. The rider had to make a qualified ride to win the Mossy Oak cash bonus. In the event that he failed, $5,000 would be added to the bounty, and the new amount would be offered at the next two-day event's Mossy Oak Shoot Out. The bonus capped out at $100,000, and when a rider made the whistle and collected his bonus, the bounty was then reset to $5,000 at the next event. Notable winners of the Shoot Out included Ross Coleman who racked in $100,000 after successfully riding Tuff-E-Nuff (Columbus, Ohio, 2001), Owen Washburn who collected $90,000 on Hammer (Bossier City, 2003), and Jim Sharp who won $85,000 on Dillinger (Fort Worth, 2002). This event was discontinued after 2006.
Ford Truck Moment of Truth
In this challenge which started in 2001, the average leader going into a BFTS Championship Round got a chance to win $5,000. If this leading rider won the event, he also won the "Ford Truck Moment of Truth" bonus money. If the average leader did not win; however, the prize money increased by $5,000. This repeated until a bull rider was successful. After a rider won the money, the whole pool started over again.
Ford Super Duty Challenge
This challenge gave the top 45 bull riders an opportunity to compete for a $1 million bonus. One elite bull rider won a Super Duty Ford Truck and one won a $1 million bonus through the achievement of performance milestones. The bull riders competed at seven pre-determined BFTS events. Winners of these events became eligible for incentives. A bull rider who won two or more events became eligible for to win the $1 million bonus and had to win the 2005 PBR BFTS Finals event. The bull rider that finished the highest in the event aggregate won the Super Duty Truck. Adriano Moraes drove away with the 2005 Ford Super Duty Truck.
Champions and awards
Heroes and Legends Celebrations have their own article Heroes and Legends Celebrations which lists the Ring of Honor, Brand of Honor, Jim Shoulders Award, Ty Murray Top Hand Award, and the Sharon Shoulders Award. The Ring of Honor for bull riders is equivalent to a hall of fame induction.
- Lists of rodeo performers
- Bull Riding Hall of Fame
- Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association
- ProRodeo Hall of Fame
- International Professional Rodeo Association
- Bull Riders Only
- Professional Roughstock Series
- Championship Bull Riding
- Women's Professional Rodeo Association
- Canadian Professional Rodeo Association
- 8 Seconds
- Cowboy Up
- The Ride (2010 film)
- The Longest Ride (2015 film)
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- 2020 PBR Media Guide, PBR & Bull Riding Basics - PBR at a Glance, World Finals, p. 4.
- 2016 PBR Media Guide, Bull Riding Basics, p. 27.
- 2020 PBR Media Guide, BR & Bull Riding Basics - PBR at a Glance, Tours, p. 4.
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- 2018 PBR Media Guide, PBR Tours and World Finals - Velocity Tour, 2018, p. 4.
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- Official sites of Professional Bull Riders, Inc.:
- Official Website
- Mexico (in Spanish)
- Brazil (in Portuguese)
- Professional Bull Riders ticketing information
- Feature story about PBR on Hossli.com
- American Bucking Bull