By: Justin Felisko
March 07, 2017
PUEBLO, Colo. – Amidst Eduardo Aparecido’s event-winning 87.25-point ride on Bezerk this past weekend at the Jacksonville Invitational, there was a shiny, metallic cross dangling from his neck.
Inside the cross is a man riding a bucking bull in perfect form.
The cross is a combination of two of the world leader’s biggest passions beyond his wife, Kelly, and two kids, Maria Eduarda and Maria Luiza.
“This is about Jesus Christ,” Aparecido said with the help of Guilherme Marchi translating as he wrapped his fingers around the medallion. “I wanted the bull rider in the middle because I am a bull rider. This can help protect me. I wanted something as a bull rider that could help protect me. I believe in God.”
Aparecido had noticed other American bull riders, such as 2016 World Champion Cooper Davis, riding with various crosses and had mentioned to Kelly that he would like a new cross at some point.
Kelly, with the help of Marchi, surprised Aparecido with the gift from Benchmark custom buckles and western jewelry, following the Express Employment Professionals Invitational in Oklahoma City and it has become quite the lucky charm.
The 26-year-old has won a 15/15 Bucking Battle and three Built Ford Tough Series events in six weeks since he began riding with the new cross.
“Yes. This may be a new good luck charm,” Aparecido said with his pearly white smile.
Aparecido has had plenty of reasons to smile outside of his new gift.
He has gone 15-for-21 during his hot streak to surge into the No. 1 world ranking for the first time in his career.
“This guy really trusts in God,” Marchi said. “He is a very good Christian. Everything he do is so true. I think everything he do, he deserves. He is proving to everybody he is a good bull rider.”
Aparecido has won three of nine events, including a PBR Major (Iron Cowboy) and leads No. 2 Jess Lockwood by 887.5 points heading into this weekend’s Bad Boy Mowdown in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Ryan Dirteater won a PBR-best four events in 2016, while two-time World Champion Justin McBride won a PBR record eight events in 2007.
Davis won three events during his 2016 championship season.
“I don’t think about that,” Aparecido said. “How many events? I just want to come and do 100 percent and cover my bulls.
“I am very happy to have won three events this year. I am feeling so strong.”
Aparecido has already won $239,133.33 through nine weeks of the season compared to $176,477 last season.
“It is in the bank,” Aparecido said. “I am waiting to buy more land in Brazil. I am investing my money. I have a nice ranch in Brazil. I am in the milking business.”
The Gouvelandia, Brazil, bull rider began Jacksonville with 83.25 points on Power Trip and 86.25 points on Smokin Gun.
It was a strong rebound performance following his 1-for-4 showing in St. Louis.
“I fell last week, but that didn’t hurt me,” Aparecido said. “I feel strong mentally. I saw the draw this week and knew I had a possible chance to cover those good bulls.”
Nine-time World Champion Ty Murray said Aparecido is doing all of the right things to make himself a contender for the rest of the season.
No rider other than Lockwood is within 1,000 points of Aparecido in the world standings.
“Hey, the World Championship race is underway and he is in a perfect position now to really keep going for it,” Murray said to lead PBR broadcaster Craig Hummer.
“We have seen it be such a game of inches and come down to the very last bull. This guy is in a position to take off with this thing.”
Aparecido said he has not put any thought into the championship race, but his eyes said otherwise.
“I do not think about the world title yet,” Aparecido said before pausing and glancing at a television screen that was showing the CBS Sports Network and the PBR world standings.
He then concluded, “I am leaving it in God’s hands and we will see what happens then.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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