Professional Bull Riders

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Professional Bull Riders
Professional Bull Riders logo.jpg
Sport Bull riding
Founded 1992
Owner(s) Endeavor
Competitors Over 1,200 total, 35 in highest ranked tour
Countries  United States
 Canada
 Mexico
 Brazil
 Australia
Most recent
champion(s)
United States Jess Lockwood
Official website PBR.com

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 2013.[1][2] More than 1,200 cowboys from the United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Australia and other countries hold PBR memberships.

History[edit]

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 sport. "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.[3] 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.[4][5] In April 2015, Endeavor (formerly WME | IMG), a global leader in several industries, bought the PBR.[6][7]

In 2007, the PBR had enough of its cramped office in downtown Colorado Springs, Colorado. They moved their headquarters to a new 4-story building just outside Pueblo, Colorado.[citation needed]

Since the beginning of the first tour in 1994 with the Bud Light Cup Series, the organization has grown into three tours which stage over 300 events in the United States every year. Prize money has exploded from over $330,000 in 1994 to over $11 million in 2008.[8][9][10]

The original CEO of the PBR was Sam Applebaum.[11] Randy Bernard became CEO of the PBR in 1995, a position he held until he resigned in 2010 to become the CEO of INDYCAR.[12] 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.[13]

On February 23, 2011, the PBR announced that Jim Haworth had become its new CEO.[14] Then on June 29, 2015, the PBR announced that Haworth was promoted to Chairman, while COO Sean Gleason had become the new CEO.[15]

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 will award another $11 million in prize money which includes the bonus to the World Champion Bull Rider of $1 million and the $20,000 gold belt buckle.[16]

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.[17]

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.[18] 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 final time the PBR hosted its season-ending event at the venue.[19] In 2016, the PBR moved their World Finals event from the Thomas & Mack Center to the T-Mobile Arena on the Las Vegas Strip.[20][21]

Champions and awards[edit]

Heroes and Legends Celebrations have their own article Heroes and Legends Celebrations which lists the Ring of Honor, Brand of Honor, Jim Shoulders Award, and the Sharon Shoulders Award. The Ring of Honor for bull riders is equivalent to a hall of fame induction.[22]

Organization[edit]

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.[23] 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.[24]

The PBR has become one of the most globally successful television sports programs. The 2018 25th Anniversary 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.[25][26][27]

From 2007–2010, the PBR also hosted a team competition format called the PBR World Cup, where 25 bull riders (altogether representing five different 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.[28]

Randy Bernard, shown here in 2011, served as the CEO for Professional Bull Riders from 1995 to 2010.

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.[citation needed] In 1995 roughly 310,000 fans attended an event. Now, around 3 million fans attend a live event.[29]

Canada, Brazil, Australia, and Mexico each have 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. Some events are also held in New Zealand as well.[30]

Competition[edit]

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. [31]

PBR Tours[edit]

The PBR started their inaugural season in 1994 with one tour.[8][9] Today, it offers three tours and eligibility of contestants at each level is based on previous performance.[32]

Unleash the Beast Series[edit]

In 2018, Monster Energy took over sponsorship of the Premier Series tour, by which it became known as Unleash the Beast, as not to confuse PBR's Canadian tour, which is named the Monster Energy Tour.[33] [33] The Unleash the Beast Series opened at Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York, on January 5—7. The rules and scoring stays the same, except the belt buckle value moves up from $10,000 to $20,000.[34] This is the tour where the best riders and bulls compete, and it culminates in the PBR World Finals at the end of the year, which take place in Las Vegas, Nevada, at the T-Mobile Arena. The top 35 riders and top bulls compete at each event and it culminates in the PBR World Finals at the end of the year, which currently take place in Las Vegas, Nevada, at the T-Mobile Arena. It includes no more than 30 events across the United States each year. Pyrotechnics, pulsating music, and special effects open each event. The 2018 tour is referred to as the 25th in celebration of 2018 being the PBR’s 25th year of competition and the slogan is a reference to new PBR title sponsor Monster Energy.[33]

Velocity Tour[edit]

The PBR announced a new tour, the Velocity Tour, in 2014. It began as an expansion tour. It is still active. It features young and up-coming talent competing against the high-powered talent of the sport. The tour brings events to cities across the U.S. that are not included in the Premier Series schedule. The tour has everything fans expect from PBR; it's a high quality venture created 100 percent by PBR. In 2018, the Velocity Tour plans to visit 35 cities, including the Velocity Tour Finals in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Velocity Tour Finals are presented as the last event of the season. They take place just before the PBR World Finals each year. The top 35 rides, along with qualifiers from international territories, compete for the final five positions at the finals. The territories are Australia, Brazil, Canada, and Mexico. This makes the Velocity Tour Finals the second most important event in the PBR.[35]

In 2018, the Velocity Tour will visit around 35 cities, as well as the Velocity Tour Finals in Las Vegas, Nevada. This tour remains the most important tour for bull riders to earn points to attempt to qualify for the Premier Series, and, hopefully, the PBR World Finals. Additionally, every winner of a Velocity Tour regular-season event will be seeded at one Premier Series event during the season, providing yet another avenue for the PBR’s emerging talent to increase their position in the overall world standings. [36]

Touring Pro Division[edit]

On January 1, 2010, the PBR announced a new minor tour. This new tour, the Touring Pro Division, replaced the Challenger Tour, Enterprise Tour, and the Discovery Tour. This tour is still active. So, like the lower level tours it replaced and other similar tours, it offers up-and-coming bull riders and others not in BFTS events the ability to compete in PBR events so they can attempt to earn money to qualify for the elite series and the PBR World Finals. The Touring Pro Division is split into three regions; the Western Region, the Central Region and the Easter Region.[37]

At the time it was created, it offered the 40 top bull riders five events to try to secure their position in the elite tour. After the fifth event, the last five riders in rankings are sent down to the Touring Pro Division. And the top five in rankings, based on money earned, from the Touring Pro Division are sent up to the BFTS. Also, there are two regular season BFTS events where (one in each season half) in each TPD region where the top five money earners will receive a special invitation to compete. At the end of the regular TPD season, the top three riders from each region are invited to compete in Round 1 of the PBR BFTS World Finals. The highest two scoring riders advance to the next round. Initially, the winner of the finals was determined by money earned. In 2013, the tour was changed, and now the winner is determined by points earned.[37][38]

As of 2018, more than 100 events are sanctioned annually by the PBR. Close to $3 million is awarded in prize money annually. The one-day Touring Pro Division format has 35 competitors. All 35 riders ride a bull in Round 1. The Top Ten riders compete in the Championship Round to ride one more bull each. The event winner is the rider with the highest combined score on his two bulls. Two day Touring Pro Division events take up to 70 competitors with 35 riders competing each day. The Top Ten riders each day make it to the Championship Round to compete on one more bull each. The event winner is the rider with the highest combined score on his two bulls.[39]

Previous tours[edit]

There are a number of tours that the PBR created throughout its storied history. And they are still useful for documentation purposes. Especially useful is the Built Ford Tough Series, which was the name of the PBR's elite series for 17 years. Many of the bull riders and bucking bulls have competed during this period of time, which from 2003 through 2017. Articles on these individuals will be full of the mentions of this historic tour.

Built Ford Tough Series[edit]

The Ford Motor Company took over sponsorship of the Premier Series from Anheuser-Busch in 2003, by which it became known as the Built Ford Tough Series, and continued until the end of 2017. The BFTS featured the top 35 bull riders against the world's rankest bulls. In 2015, the series stopped 27 times in 18 states. It featured the top 35 bull riders against the world's rankest (most difficult) bulls. Additional BFTS events included the 15/15 Bucking Battle and the four PBR Majors. The PBR World Finals awarded close to in $2.2 prize money as well as a $10,000 gold belt buckle. The World Champion also received a $1 million bonus.[20][21] Prior to 2015, the PBR points system ensured that the most consistent rider was rewarded in becoming the BFTS world champion. Starting with 2015, the BFTS adopted a restructured points system. The new points system rewarded bull riders who performed at the highest level of the sport - whether in or out of events on all of the PBR's tours. The BFTS PBR World Finals points system was modified in 2004 to ensure that the PBR World Champion could not be decided prior to the finals. Monster Energy took over sponsorship in 2018, by which it became known as the Unleash the Beast Series, which is the active Premier Series sponsor.[40]

Bud Light Cup Series[edit]

The Bud Light Cup Series was the inaugural and only tour when the PBR started in 1994, two years after the PBR was founded.[8] The tour was sponsored by Anheuser-Busch from 1994 through 2002. After additional tours were added, the Bud Light Cup became the Premier Series of the PBR. By 2002, Livestock Director Cody Lambert was working with approximately 20 stock contractors in order to fill events with 75 or so bulls. Events had special rules for how many judges were needed for events and the Bud Light Cup World Finals.[41] The championship round in the World Finals was called the Built Tough Championship Round. The Bud Light Cup Series used a points system for determining the winner. It ensured the most consistent rider won. Points could only be won at Bud Light Cup events.[42] The Ford Motor Company took over sponsorship in 2003, by which it became known as the Built Ford Tough Series, and continued until the end of 2017.

U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company Challenger Tour[edit]

The U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company Challenger Tour was designed for up-and-coming bull riders to gain a foothold in PBR events and earn money to help them qualify for the elite BFTS. In the 2004 season, the top 45 bull riders in the World's Standings had eight BFTS events to attempt to secure their ranking. When the eight event is concluded, the last five riders in the rankings are sent down from the BFTS to the Challenger Tour. The top five ranked riders in the Challenger Tour are sent up to the BFTS. This routine is repeated after every fifth event throughout the season. Riders who are sent down have the opportunity to earn enough money to make their way back to the top 45 riders.[43] This tour was discontinued when the Touring Pro Division tour was created.[37]

Enterprise Tour[edit]

On February 5, 2005, the PBR created the Enterprise Tour named after its sponsor, the Enterprise rent-a-car tour. The tour featured both current and soon-to-be notable riders. Any money awarded from the tour qualified for the Challenger Tour and the BFTS World Finals. The events were one an two-day events. They could be 35 or 45 rider events. The final round usually highlighted the top eight riders from the first round.[44] This tour was discontinued when the Touring Pro Division was created.[37]

Humps N' Horns Series[edit]

On December 2, 2002, the PBR announced the 2003 Humps N' Horns Series, which is now discontinued. "The PBR is experiencing phenomenal growth," stated Randy Bernard CEO of the Professional Bull Riders, Inc. "This third level of competition will help meet demands from both our younger athletes and our fans." This tour, which was sponsored by Humps N' Horns Bull Riding News (now Humps N' Horns Magazine), was designed to feed into the then current U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Challenger Tour. The new series was also expected to take the burden off of that tour, which was receiving up to three times more entries than it could handle. This third tour allowed more competition for upcoming cowboys to earn their way up the tier to the elite series. During the 2003 season, the PBR anticipated about 50 events for both tours, expanding the number of promoters. As with the Challenger Tour, money earned on the Humps N' Horns Tour also qualified toward the elite series status.[45]

Current statistics[edit]

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, 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, which tallies the bull riders in order of whom has earned the most money in their careers.

90 Point Club[edit]

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.[46] 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.[47]

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.[48]

High Marked Bull[edit]

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.[49]

All Time Money Earners[edit]

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.[50]

Previous challenges[edit]

Wrangler High Marked Ride[edit]

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. [51]

Salem National Lease High Mark Bull Bonus[edit]

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.[52]

RMEF Trophy Bull Challenge[edit]

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.[53]

Mossy Oak Shoot Out[edit]

Starting with the 2000 season[citation needed], 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.[54] 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[55] (Columbus, Ohio, 2001)[citation needed], Owen Washburn who collected $90,000 on Hammer[55] (Bossier City, 2003)[citation needed], and Jim "Razor" Sharp who won $85,000 on Dillinger[55] (Fort Worth, 2002)[citation needed]. This event was discontinued after 2006[citation needed].[55]

Ford Truck Moment of Truth[edit]

In this challenge which started in 2001[citation needed], 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.[56]

Ford Super Duty Challenge[edit]

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.[57] Adriano Moraes drove away with the 2005 Ford Super Duty Truck.[58]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]