PUEBLO, Colo. – In 2009, Kasey Hayes and his soon-to-be wife, Leah, learned that were expecting a child and Hayes’ had a revelation.
The Liberal, Kansas, bull rider wanted to make sure he had a profitable future for his wife and son regardless of how things turned out with his professional bull riding career.
“It was definitely for my kid (Cash) and my wife,” Hayes said. “I wanted to make sure they would be well off and have a good future. I wanted to be smart with my financial stuff and I had to learn the hard way that it is not a good thing going out partying and waste your money on a bunch of incidental stuff. Wasting it on stuff where you will never get that money back. I look back and think, ‘Man what could I have had when I was killing it riding bulls.’ But it doesn’t matter because you can’t look back at the past. You have to learn from your mistakes and make smarter decisions.”
Therefore, he began to save and think long term.
Earlier in his career, Hayes had won close to $500,000 in his first three years on the Built Ford Tough Series and didn’t think much at all about investing.
“I kind of had a lot of money when I was young and look how far that got me,” Hayes recalled. “It didn’t go that far at all. Shoot, even if you make a couple of million dollars, if you don’t invest it properly, you are just going to waste it and slowly let it dwindle away to nothing.”
With a family to now support, Hayes began to think of ways to invest in his future outside of bull riding.
He purchased his father’s oil business and began saving more of his bull riding winnings. He then hit a lucky break when his bull Closing Time won more than $648,000 in two years while he struggled to compete on the BFTS full time.
Therefore, Hayes invested a portion of his winnings from Closing Time into real estate in Oklahoma City thanks to another lucky break while traveling to Mobile, Alabama, for a Touring Pro Division event in 2013.
Hayes had boarded a flight to Mobile and was planning to fall asleep when he sat down next to Danny Newberry and his wife, Amber. The group began chatting and Hayes learned that Danny owned an investment group (Value Investment Group) that specialized in commercial real estate.
Sure enough, Hayes ended up connecting with Danny a few weeks later, and Hayes and longtime friend and business partner Lee Pedone purchased an apartment building in Oklahoma City.
Less than one year later, and another chance encounter led to an additional opportunity for Hayes.
Hayes had earned his way back to the Built Ford Tough Series after four consecutive years of finishing outside the Top 35 and was riding at an event when Fred Williams and his wife were at home watching a CBS Sports Network broadcast.
The Williams’ noticed Hayes was from Liberal, which is only 45 minutes away from Guymon, Oklahoma, where Fred was hoping to put on a PBR event.
“I came to work the next day and I have a lady that worked in Liberal and I asked if she knew Kasey and she said ‘Well, my daughter does,’ and I said, ‘I needed his number,’” Fred recalled on Tuesday. “I got Kasey’s phone number and he was just excited we called him and thought of including him.”
Hayes admitted he had once thought about putting on a PBR event, but he never had the initiative or the right partners until Williams and the Guymon Chamber of Commerce called him.
“Guymon was a no-brainer because it is right here in my backyard and they approached me about it,” Hayes said.
The second annual Kasey Hayes, Stormy Wing BlueDEF Velocity tour event takes place this Saturday at the Henry C Hitch Pioneer Arena at 8 p.m. CT. The event will feature potentially 18 riders ranked inside the Top 35 of the world standings, including world leader Joao Ricardo Vieira.
Fans can watch the event exclusively on PBR LIVE on CarbonTV.com.
Hayes said putting his name on the Guymon event was more for the opportunity to bring PBR bull riding to his neck of the woods that piqued his interest rather than an additional business investment.
“It just means you have made it far enough in your career that people know you well enough that they are willing to put your name on a bull riding,” Hayes said last season. “It means a lot to me that Guymon would do that.”
The event drew more than 2,000 fans last year, and Williams expects a bigger crowd in the second year of the event. Not only does the event draw a large portion of Kasey Hayes fans, it also brings a strong contingent of fans and advertisers from nearby Dalhart, Texas, thanks to a smart business move by Hayes.
Two weeks after Hayes agreed to put his name on the event, the now-29-year-old convinced Williams and the Chamber of Commerce to bring aboard Stormy Wing seeing as Dalhart is only about an hour away.
“Kasey jumped all over it and he said you need to talk to Stormy,” Williams said. “We cashed the name with the PBR and named it the Kasey Hayes/Stormy Wing Invitational and it is going to stay that way as long as they want to be a part of it.”
Williams laughs when thinking about all of the ideas that Hayes and Wing have brought to the table in the past year. He says by far Hayes’ best idea was bringing Wing into the event, but he also has noticed the bull riders’ commitment to trying to become a successful business man.
Hayes, Williams and Lee Pedone are also partners with H.D. Page on a yearling of Stone Sober’s.
Speaking of Stone Sober, H.D. Page’s bovine athlete will be a $10,000 bounty bull for the event winner year. Fabiano Viera lasted 2 seconds on the potential World Champion Bull contender during the inaugural year.
“Kasey has matured a lot I think,” Williams said. “He has been great. Kasey has really matured and he would be the first to tell you. He was sitting there watching the Finals the year J.B. won it and I think that probably did more for Kasey. He told me he looked at Leah and said ‘that could be me.’”
Hayes said, “One thing I have learned is if you want to make money you have to actually go work for it or ride bulls phenomenal like J.B does consistently.”
Mauney is the second richest bull rider in PBR history with more than $5.3 million in earnings.
Hayes is ranked 25th in the world standings heading into this weekend’s event and is looking to qualify for his second consecutive World Finals following that four-year drought.
Still, he knows far too well the ups and downs that come with bull riding, and he wants to make sure his family is well supported for many years to come once he finally does decide to call it a career.
“Whenever you main source of income is bull riding, that can be taken away from you anytime you nod your head,” Hayes concluded. “What are you going to do? You have to do something.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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