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Record Payoffs Ring in New Year

by PRCA commmissioner Karl Stressman | Feb 09, 2015

As we come off of a super successful $6.375 million 2014 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, where we celebrated 30 years of big money, sellout crowds and booming success with our partners in Las Vegas, we’re rolling into another record-setting new year. This December’s WNFR kicks off the new 10-year contract with Vegas, which will run through 2024 and is worth more than $165 million in guaranteed cash payments to our members—and more than $230 million including ancillary benefits over 10 years.

My goal for our Super Bowl was $10 million in prize money per year, and starting now that’s the new reality. Every contestant who qualifies for the 2015 WNFR will receive a $10,000 bonus, which for the first time will be just that and not a draw against their WNFR earnings. After those bonuses are paid, $8.8 million will be in the payoff, which will mean $26,232 go-rounds and $67,269 for first in the average.

No lead has ever been safe at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, and our fans will be treated to even more exciting races with historic money on the line. Bulldogger Luke Branquinho came from back in the pack to win his fifth gold buckle after an injury sidelined him last summer, thanks to a big week in Vegas. The only two guys who’ve ever come from 15th to win the world over the course of the Finals are team roper Allen Bach and bull rider Cody Hancock. With this year’s unparalleled payoff, it’s going to be great watching start to finish, for sure.

The competitive opportunities available to our members are at an all-time high, and another great example—the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo—is right around the corner. We’re thrilled to be heading to Florida to spend our spring break in the Sunshine State. Our second largest championship event of the year will run March 25-28 at the Silver Spurs Arena at Osceola Heritage Park, and will include all kinds of fun events in conjunction with the showcase event of our circuit system.

We’ll kick things off with a cattle drive on March 25, have the Skirts and Spurs Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund Fashion Show March 26, and the RNCFR golf tournament March 27. The Florida Heritage Barbecue Classic will run March 26-28 right there on the same grounds as the rodeo at Osceola Heritage Park. Over 100 of the top cooks in the country will be doing barbecue battle, grilling beef, pork and even gator in a cookoff for big bucks and bragging rights. You might not think of it as cowboy country, but Florida is one of the biggest cattle-producing states in the nation.

I’ve heard people talk about how far it is to Florida, and it is for our West Coast cowboys, no doubt. The first-ever $1,000 travel stipend every RNCFR contestant will receive this year will help with that. And for the record, Kissimmee is closer to Dallas, Texas, than Las Vegas. No matter how far everyone travels to get there, I hope everybody will take advantage of everything this location has to offer in terms of weather, theme parks and countless ways to spend your days in addition to the rodeo performances. There’s the Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Orlando Resort, SeaWorld and LEGOLAND Florida, to name a few. It’s not everyday rodeo fans have a chance to ride a roller coaster and an airboat and go ziplining before the rodeo. I don’t know how we could have two championship events in more fan friendly places than Las Vegas, Nev., and Osceola County, Fla.

The payoff at this year’s RNCFR is another record. With the prize money, travel stipends, championship saddles and buckles, and RAM Trucks vouchers to the champs, this event is worth more than $1 million to our members. It’s of huge satisfaction to me personally that the new Wrangler National Finals Rodeo contract is making such a powerful financial impact on our entire circuit system, which in turn impacts every PRCA member.

Under the terms of the new agreement, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority gives each of our 12 circuits $100,000 per year, and Osceola County kicks in another $10,000 to every circuit each year. That’s $1.32 million a year—and $13.2 million over the next 10 years—in new money pouring into our circuit system. Most of our circuits will get to start adding $20,000 per event at their circuit finals. That, folks, is game-changing money we can all be very proud of.

I hope you’ll make plans to join us for spring break in Florida. Besides the record RNCFR payoff for our circuit year-end and circuit finals champs, there really is something for everyone at such a great destination spot. Whether you want to learn about the Sunshine State’s cowboy roots at old ranches and museums, go fishing or take advantage of second-to-none shopping before and after the rodeo, we’ll see you there.

Courtesy of PRCA