Bull Riding Bucks on as ‘America’s Original Extreme Sport’
Bright lights, the crowd roaring and dirt flying. It’s the most intense 8 seconds you’ll ever experience. Bull riding, the fastest growing sport in America, has time and time again given new meaning to the word “extreme” because it is America’s Original Extreme Sport; riders risking their lives to win bragging rights and a handsome payout.
Some of PBR’s finest have come from in and around Parker County, including one of PBR’s founding members, now local resident, Cody Lambert. Nestled in the wide open spaces of North Texas, Lambert calls a ranch just outside Parker County home. It’s there where he trains bull riders to compete against some of the highest ranking bulls in the sport.
Lambert knows a thing or two about the risk riding these bucking bulls. As a professional bull rider in the nineties, Lambert ended his career at the age of 34, with a knee injury that would change his course with PBR. Soon, he became PBR’s official livestock director, a position he holds today.
“I hope what I do has an impact,” Lambert said. “When we started the PBR, it was to improve the sport, and we’ve worked at it every day. I hope it equates to guys coming up with better bulls.”
Reigning World Champion, and the youngest, Jess Lockwood, trains at Lambert’s ranch in the offseason. He is the 17th rider to claim the PBR World Champion gold buckle in the PBR’s 25-year history. But he didn’t walk away with just a gold buckle. Lockwood earned the PBR’s $1 million World Champion bonus and finished 2017 with earnings of $1,525,292.90 and 4,862.5 world points. Still, he says it’s more than just about the cold, hard cash.
“The money is icing on the cake, but money doesn’t mean much and it goes away,” said Lockwood. “The championship buckle will be with me forever. It's the most beautiful buckle ever, and it's everything everyone in this sport works for.”
It’s payouts like that, that have led the PBR to some of the most famous arenas and iconic stadiums. In 2010, the PBR orchestrated a deal with Jerry Jones, the owner of the Dallas Cowboys, to host the Iron Cowboy Invitational at AT&T Stadium — Jones’ own crown jewel. Nine seasons later, the event is going strong at Jerry’s World.
"We are thrilled to bring Iron Cowboy, one of the PBR’s Majors and among the season’s most anticipated events, back to Arlington for our ninth year,” said PBR CEO Sean Gleason. “There’s no better venue in the world than AT&T Stadium in the heart of Texas to cheer on the new Iron Cowboy, all our riders, and the sport's rankest bulls."
PBR is so much more than the sport and the payout. At its core, PBR has always been about bringing people together to participate in and enjoy a sport built upon traditional American values.
In 2017, PBR launched its “Celebrate America” campaign, aimed at honoring real heroes – veterans, first responders and their families. To help spread awareness about the campaign, PBR’s record label signed U.S. Army combat veteran and recording artist Ryan Weaver. Weaver leads the “Celebrate America” initiative at all PBR events across the country; he even has a newly released album with the same title.
You can be sure to catch a glimpse of Weaver when PBR’s 25th Unleash the Beast series heads to AT&T Stadium, Saturday, Feb. 24, for Iron Cowboy, one of four PBR majors.
Tickets for Iron Cowboy may be purchased at the AT&T Stadium Box Office, all Ticketmaster locations, www.ticketmaster.com, or by phone at 800.745.3000. For more information about PBR, go to www.pbr.com .