In 1992, when 20 bull riders from the rodeo circuit came together to give life to a dream they all shared, they never imagined it would so quickly develop into what has officially been declared the fastest growing sport in America – the PBR. The riders pooled their resources – $1,000 each – and broke away from the confines of the rodeo format to make bull riding, the most popular of the seven events in traditional rodeo, a standalone sport and take it to major markets across the United States. Today the visionary founders are riding a wave of popularity as the PBR continues its charge as one of the fastest-growing properties in the history of sports.
The concept is simple enough: match the world’s best bull riding athletes against the toughest animal athletes on the planet in an 8-second man versus beast duel. Put the cowboys against one another in a season-long battle to claim the year-end title of PBR World Champion, and with that, a share of more than $10 million in prize money including the $1 million year-end bonus for the season’s best bull rider. Of course, it’s only simple until you strap a tough and determined 159-pound cowboy to the back of a temperamental 2,000-pound bull. The result is unparalleled action where danger, drama and heroic accomplishments are just a part of the game.
The PBR brings, “The Toughest Sport on Dirt,” to major venues nationwide, where the Top 35 bull riders in the world compete week in and week out on the televised Built Ford Tough Series. Each event is wrapped in a rock concert environment, complete with pulsating music, explosive pyrotechnics and fast-paced production. The combination of intense sports action and world-class production can’t be rivaled by any other major league sport.
The PBR is experiencing unprecedented growth in global and domestic appeal. Today more than 600 bull riders from the United States, Australia, Brazil, Canada and Mexico hold PBR memberships. They compete in more than 300 bull riding events each year on either the nationally-televised Built Ford Tough Series, the BlueDEF Velocity Tour or the Touring Pro Division. There are also tours in Australia, Brazil, Canada and Mexico. The ultimate goal is to qualify for the Built Ford Tough World Finals in Las Vegas, the richest bull riding event on the planet, with the winner receiving the World Championship belt buckle and a $1 million dollar bonus.
The success of the PBR has made it one of the most prolific sports on television. The elite Built Ford Tough Series is televised every week on CBS, CBS Sports Network and networks around the world. Additionally, PBR broadcasts reach over half a billion households in 50 nations and territories.
The combination of raw sports and quality entertainment has propelled live attendance growth as well. Annual attendance of more than 3 million fans each season, compared to 310,000 in 1995, indicates that the PBR is making an indelible impression.
In early 2007, Spire Capital Partners finalized a deal with the PBR Board of Directors to acquire the interests of many of the retired founding riders and invest in the growth of the organization. Those first 20 bull riders had turned their $1,000 into millions.
On April 15, 2015, the PBR announced that WME|IMG, the global leader in sports, fashion and media, had acquired the company from Spire and the remaining PBR shareholders. WME|IMG is now the sole owner of the PBR.
The PBR has rapidly transformed one of the fastest-growing sports in America into a worldwide phenomenon. In just two decades, the dream of 20 bull riders has grown into a global sports sensation that has awarded more than $140 million in prize money.
Professional bull riding is a fierce, rough, and grueling sport with roots deeply imbedded in American culture. It’s America’s original extreme sport.