Flashing lights and fireworks marked the start of each day of the 2020 Professional Bull Riders World Finals at AT&T Stadium.
The finals, held Thursday through Sunday, have been hosted in Las Vegas, Nevada, for the past 26 years. This year it was hosted in Texas due to Nevada’s COVID-19 restrictions.
PBR was started in 1992 by 20 bull riders who broke away from the rodeo circuit to make bull riding a stand-alone sport. The “Super Bowl” of the PBR, the World Finals brings the world’s top bull riders to compete in the televised Unleash the Beast event.
After over 300 bull riding events throughout the year, qualifying for the World Finals for a chance to win the million dollar prize and $20,000 belt buckle is the ultimate goal.
Jose Vitor Leme won the PBR World Championship after scoring 95.75 points, the highest-marked ride of his career on Saturday. Boudreaux Campbell won the PBR World Finals: Unleash the Beast event title after a 4-for-5 performance Sunday. He was also named the 2020 PBR Rookie of the Year and is the No. 3 ranked bull rider in the world.
Fort Worth residents Tim and Lea Crow attended the finals Saturday night.
The World Finals was the first big in-person event the Crows have attended during the COVID-19 pandemic. With socially distanced seating and masks, the couple said they felt assured adequate safety precautions were taken.
In the past, the couple has gone to Las Vegas for the World Finals. This year they were able to save money on travel expenses.
Tim Crow was a bull rider for over 20 years, and the sport continues to be the couple’s favorite. Now he’s able to get his fix by coming to competitions as a spectator.
Whitesboro, Texas, resident Scott Clark was a bull rider for 15 years; his earnings helped put him through Auburn University. The company he works for, Ariat, is a sponsor for the PBR.
His wife, Robin Clark, said she had been to AT&T Stadium before for the American Rodeo, which is held there annually. Because of how fun the American Rodeo is, Robin Clark said she felt the local community would be excited to have the World Finals there as well.
Wearing masks and social distancing didn’t make this year’s World Finals feel much different from past years, Scott Clark said.
Having the finals so close to home was a bonus because they didn’t have to travel, he said. While AT&T Stadium is a larger venue, the entertainment outside is different from what is offered in Las Vegas.
Bringing big events to Arlington like the PBR and the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, expected to be hosted next month, has significant economic value, Scott Clark said. The city, whose visitors contribute an estimated 52% in sales tax dollars, also hosted the MLB World Series in October.
“It was a hit for Las Vegas to lose this and the [Wrangler National Finals Rodeo] just for this year, but it’s a big boom in the economy around here,” he said.
This year was also the inaugural year for the Women’s Rodeo World Championship, which awarded a $750,000 guaranteed payout in four disciplines and a $20,000 bonus for the all-around champion.
After competing at the Will Rogers Memorial Center in Fort Worth from Nov. 9-12, the final six from each discipline advanced to AT&T Stadium on Friday.
Team roping champions Hope Thompson and Rylie Smith won $60,000 each for their 13.66 second run Friday night. Jackie Crawford was awarded the Women’s Rodeo World Championship All-Around Cowgirl, taking home $20,000. Madison Outhier won $60,000 for her 2.05 second time in breakaway roping on the last day of the championship rounds.
Hallie Hanssen won the barrel racing championship with her 14.735-second run on Saturday, bringing home $60,000.
“I’ve never been on a stage quite this big,” Hanssen said. “It just feels amazing, and for my horse to go out there and to work the way she did, I couldn’t be any more proud of her.”