Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2012 | 3:33 p.m.
They are mean, nasty and fierce. They are tougher and angrier than any reality TV show. This is no walk to the Jersey Shore or a tangle with the Bounty Hunters. Unlike Storage Wars, this is a real and bruising battle.
The raging and rank bucking bulls are back in Las Vegas with five days of nonstop chilling action starting Wednesday at the Thomas & Mack Center. CBS and NBC will broadcast the Professional Bull Riders Built Ford Tough World Finals daily through Sunday’s crowning of the new champion.
The world’s top riders are in a fight to the finish to win $2 million and the coveted champion buckle in the richest bull-riding event on Earth. The snorting, stomping and sneering bulls were weighed in Monday at Fremont Street Experience, with Bushwacker at 1,625 pounds and Asteroid at 1,365 pounds. These top two bulls mean business because they are mean -- think of it as a hurricane with horns.
Although most of the bulls weigh in around 1,500 pounds, some hit the 1-ton mark, such as the legendary Chicken on a Chain -- retiring after this visit -- at 2,100 pounds and named the world champion bull.
For Las Vegas, it’s the 19th consecutive year of the running of the bulls, and it’s staying here. During the Monday ceremony, Mayor Carolyn Goodman, Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority President Rossi Ralenkotter and PBR CEO Jim Haworth announced the World Finals will remain here through 2015.
Seven of the Top 10 bull riders in the world were feted Monday by our showgirls: 2011 defending world champion Silvano Alves (Brazil); Guilherme Marchi (Brazil); L.J. Jenkins (Oklahoma); J.B. Mauney (North Carolina); Marco Eguchi (Brazil); Austin Meier (Oklahoma); and Robson Palermo (Brazil). Our thanks to contributing photographer Tom Donoghue for his photo gallery.
MGM Grand has been named the official host hotel for the bull riders, and for the ninth year, the PBR Fan Zone and Marketplace including Flint Rasmussen’s show “Outside the Barrel” will be located at Mandalay Bay starting today. The PBR golf tournament to benefit Special Olympics Nevada also takes place today at Bears Best. Tonight, the PBR Heroes and Legends inductions honoring winning recipients takes place at South Point, with the kick-off party in the showroom with performances by Wolf Creek.
On Wednesday, the World Champions Forum and the PBR alumni meet-and-greet autograph session is at South Point, with the current Top 35 bull riders in the world and the 14 men who own the 18 PB World Championships.
CBS Sports will broadcast the first two rounds live at 6 p.m. PT on Wednesday and Thursday. NBC Sports (formerly Versus) will broadcast Rounds 3 and 4 live Friday and Saturday. NBC will broadcast Championship Sunday starting at 1 p.m. PT with Round 5 and then the final championship round. More than 100 million viewers annually watch the primetime PBR programming on networks around the world.
A special feed will go out on the American Forces Network to nearly 1 million servicemen and servicewomen at bases in 175 countries and 140 U.S. Navy ships at sea. Color commentary will be provided by nine-time world champion Ty Murray, with former Las Vegas star Justin McBride, a two time PBR world champion, working for the cameras right behind the bull chutes.
As of this 20th anniversary year, the PBR has awarded more than $100 million in prize money with 25 riders earning more than $1 million. Justin, with $5.5 million, has the record of any Western sports athlete in PBR history.
Leading the race as it winds up here is defending world champion Silvano, who could become the first back-to-back champion in PBR history. He has a 505-point lead over 2nd-place Valdiron de Oliveira and 3rd-ranked L.J. 2008 world champion Guilherme is in 4th, with J.B. in 5th. Nearly 2 million fans have attended this year’s tour events leading to Las Vegas.
Fans will be out in force at Mandalay Bay’s Fan Zone and the Thomas & Mack Arena for the next five days, and it already looks a sell-out as the cowboys come to town. Stand clear: The spurs and Stetsons are here in force!
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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