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Home Things to Do Rodeos A Look at 2009’s Upcoming Wrangler National Finals Rodeo – By the Numbers

A Look at 2009’s Upcoming Wrangler National Finals Rodeo – By the Numbers

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The week of Nov. 2, 2009 was one of those very rare weeks when there were no PRCA rodeos, allowing a few moments of quiet reflection on what lies ahead in just 30 days before being launched into the sound and fury that is the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.

The Dec. 3-12 rodeo - this sport's answer to the Super Bowl and World Series - is back at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada with some pretty big numbers to celebrate. This is the silver anniversary of the rodeo's move to Las Vegas, and it comes with plenty of gold - a rodeo-record purse of $5.75 million.


The move from Oklahoma City to the Entertainment Capital of the World in 1985 has worked out beyond all expectations for rodeo - and for Las Vegas. Every performance has been sold out for more than 20 years, and telecasts of last year's 50th anniversary edition of the rodeo drew 15.4 million viewers.

The non-gaming economic impact of the rodeo to the region last year was $54.7 million, according to figures compiled by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

But those numbers are just the by-product of the rodeo's real business of determining world champions. Eleven months of crisscrossing the country in trucks and planes, going short on sleep and subsisting on fast food only qualifies a cowboy to compete for a gold buckle. Every world title is decided on Las Vegas' big stage.

Here are some of this year's most compelling storylines - by the numbers:

7/11: Trevor Brazile has an $118,128 lead on the field in his bid to equal Ty Murray's record seven all-around world championships. If he wins that title and holds onto his $32,123 lead in the tie-down roping, Brazile will have 11 world championships, tying him for third place on the career list with Dean Oliver and Charmayne James.

31: By making the fields in steer roping, tie-down roping and team roping (with Patrick Smith), Brazile now has qualified for national finals events 31 times. That's fourth on the all-time list, just one back of boyhood idol Roy Cooper and Guy Allen; Tee Woolman holds the record with 42.

4: Brazile is all but assured of enjoying his fourth consecutive season with prize money of more than $300,000. He has earnings of $262,078, and anything like the sort of results he had last year in the National Finals Steer Roping (coming up Nov. 13-14) and the Wrangler NFR will break his PRCA record of $425,115, set in 2007.

2: Josh Peek is the only other cowboy besides Brazile to qualify for the Wrangler NFR in more than one event, making the cut in both steer wrestling and tie-down roping.

233,504: That's the number of dollars bareback rider Clint Cannon banked this year in setting a PRCA regular-season earnings record for any individual event. He was never bucked off the entire season, a total of more than 200 rides.

2: Team roping partners Chad Masters and Jade Corkill both set regular-season earnings records for their event. Masters, who had some early season success with heeler Michael Jones, finished the year with $127,749, and Corkill earned $118,277.

3: With Masters, Kelsey Parchman and Keven Daniel, there are a trio of native Tennessee team roping headers in the Top 10. The Volunteer State has never enlisted three cowboys in any individual event before.

8: It has been eight years since a bull rider (Blue Stone) last won back-to-back world titles, but reigning World Champion J.W. Harris has an $110,831 lead over second-place Steve Woolsey entering the Wrangler NFR - the largest lead in any event.

8,021: That's the number of dollars separating steer wrestling leader Lee Graves from defending World Champion Luke Branquinho - the smallest lead in any event.

18: If Branquinho can make up the difference and retain his title, he will be the first steer wrestler to repeat since Ote Berry from 1990-91.

21: Saddle bronc rider Billy Etbauer, 46, extended his own record for most NFR appearances in his event, having now qualified every year since 1989. Some other familiar faces weren't so lucky: Allen Bach, who leads all team ropers with 27 NFR appearances, failed to make the field this year, as did tie-down roping record holder Mike Johnson (23) and steer roper Guy Allen (32).

6: The bareback riding field has four past world champions in Bobby Mote, Will Lowe, Justin McDaniel and Kelly Timberman, plus two sons of past world champions - Kaycee Feild and Royce Ford.

33: The number of Texans in the field of 118 contestants, the biggest contingent from any state. Oklahoma is second with 13 qualifiers.

25: The number of states with at least one representative in the Wrangler NFR (plus one Canadian province).

5: The number of contestants qualified from Wyoming, giving it the most qualifiers per capita - one for every 106,533 citizens (Texas has one qualifier for every 737,181).

8: Going solo with the state flag each night in the Grand Entry will be Luke Brown of South Carolina, Jared Smith of Florida, Wade Sundell of Iowa, Blaine Linaweaver of Kansas, Dean Gorsuch of Nebraska, D.V. Fennell of Missouri, Shaun Stroh of North Dakota and B.J. Schumacher of Wisconsin.

1: There is one set of brothers team roping together (Riley and Brady Minor) and another (Travis and Clay Tryan) competing against each other as headers.

1: Stock contractor Jeff Davis will be keeping an eye on his son, Justin Wade Davis, in the team roping competition and the bull, Happy Hour, which was selected from his Four Star Rodeo string in Cottonwood, Calif.

17,139: The amount, in dollars, that the winner of each round of the Wrangler NFR receives and which allows each of them to dream of gold buckles.

The Wrangler National Finals Rodeo is the season-ending championship event for the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association and is widely acknowledged to be the world's premier rodeo.

Held in December of each year at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, the Wrangler NFR is ProRodeo's richest and most prestigious rodeo, and it showcases the very best cowboys, barrel racers and live­stock in the world.

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