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Professional Bull Riders, Inc. was founded in 1992 when 20 cowboys each chipped in $1,000 in the hopes of taking bull riding from a rodeo attraction to a main attraction. Their risk paid off. Today, the PBR awards over $10 million in prize money and is widely regarded as the world's fastest growing sport.
The PBR sanctions more than 300 competitions a year in the United States, Australia, Brazil, Canada, and Mexico. More than 1,200 riders compete in several popular bull riding series. The company's top tour is the Built Ford Tough Series presented by Wrangler.
There are three minor league circuits: the Challenger Tour, the Enterprise Rent-A-Car Tour, and the Discovery Tour. Finally, there are several international circuits taking place in the last four aforementioned countries. The PBR season lasts from January to May and then from August to October. It culminates in the World Finals held in Las Vegas, Nevada. This highly anticipated annual event crowns a PBR champion who is rewarded with an additional $1 million bonus.
The sport of professional bull riding sounds simple but it's obviously extremely tough to master. The rider sits on top of a 2,000 pound bull with the hopes of holding on for eight seconds and impressing the judges. The rider can only hold on to the bull with one hand. He is disqualified if his off-hand touches himself or the bull during his ride. The maximum score possible for each ride is 100 points—half is based on the rider and half is based on the bull (that's right the bull is judged).
Judges look for a rider's ability to match the bull's movements. As for the bull, judges look for how difficult the beast makes it for the rider to hold on. The bulls are randomly assigned to riders via a draw held days before each event. The PBR uses more than 20 livestock contractors throughout the year. The main circuit needs about 75 bulls for each tour stop.
The Built Ford Tough Series consists of 31 regular-season events and the World Finals. Most of these events span two days and follow the same format. On day one, the top 45 competitors ride one bull. On the second day, they ride another bull. Then the top 15 riders advance to the finals which are held after an intermission on day two. The winner is the rider with the highest three-ride total.
If you can't get professional bull riders tickets, you can always watch the action on television. Every year, PBR produces 500-plus hours of television programming on the networks of VERSUS, NBC, ESPN, FOX, and CBS. Combined, these broadcasts annually draw over 100 million viewers. Add that number to the 1.7 million fans that attend live PBR events every year and you can see why the so-called "toughest sport on dirt" was definitely worth the initial $1,000 investment.
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