Monday, Oct. 26, 2015 | 7:58 p.m.
The first $6 million man in Professional Bull Riders history is the new world champion and finished second in the 2015 PBR Build Ford Tough World Finals at the Thomas & Mack Center on Sunday, skipping the final rides due to bruising and a sprained left shoulder sustained after his ride Saturday. J.B. Mauney pockets $6 million but faces six months of recovery.
Nevertheless, J.B., from Mooresville, N.C., became the richest PBR athlete in history with career earnings of $6,708,492. His $1 million world championship bonus, Rounds 1 and 4 wins and second-place finish in the five-day World Finals at UNLV since Wednesday netted him $1,197,500, giving him total earnings this year of $1,540,942.
Additionally, for his 92.75-point ride on Bruiser in Round 4 on Saturday, J.B. captured the Lane Frost/Brent Thurman Award for the third consecutive year. The award is given to the rider who receives the highest-marked ride.
You get a great feel for J.B’s incredible skills in this highlight reel from his 2013 achievements, the first time he became world champion.
J.B. had every intention of going after the World Finals title Sunday, but the medical drama began when he woke up Sunday experiencing pain in his left shoulder. He arrived at the Thomas & Mack Center early Sunday to meet with Dr. Tandy Freeman.
The two-time world champion said he began to feel pain in his shoulder once the adrenaline rush of clinching the world title wore off late Saturday. He underwent X-rays on his left collarbone, which revealed no fracture, and the diagnosis from the doctor was a sprained left sternoclavicular joint of his riding arm.
The doctor said: “It is a sprain and will stay sore for six months, but by the time January rolls around, he will be feeling good enough to ride.” J.B. was unable to even put pressure against the doctor’s arm before he was ruled out.
The injury happened Saturday moments after he had ridden Bruiser for 92.75 points. “When I stepped off that bull last night, the adrenaline was pumping, and I was 10 feet tall and bulletproof,” J.B. said.
“I started doing interviews, and the adrenaline quit pumping. That bull jerked me down right after the whistle blew and hit me in the chest. I started getting sore, and this morning I couldn’t even move my arm.
“We had us a long talk about it. I really wanted to finish it off. I had two more bulls to get on, and I wanted to end it on a high note and win the World Finals again. Unfortunately, it was not going to work out.”
He entered Sunday leading and in contention for a record-tying third World Finals championship. “To all of the fans who came here to this last day, if they were coming to watch me, I apologize. I wanted to ride just as much as anybody here,” J.B. said.
Rookie of the Year runner-up Cooper Davis from Jasper, Texas, took J.B.’s spot as the winner. Cooper is the fourth rookie to win the event title and first since Jody Newberry in 2003. He went 4-for-6 in the event after he tallied 85.75 points on Moto in Round 5.
With a total of 350.25 points, Cooper captured first place in J.B.’s absence and the $250,000 winner’s check. He finished his Las Vegas visit with $292,500.
“The Thomas & Mack is where so much history of the PBR has taken place, and it’s going to be different competing somewhere else next year, but I’m proud to be the last event winner in this building,” said Cooper, noting the move to the new Las Vegas Arena behind New York-New York for 2016. “This is truly a moment I’ll never forget, and I’m excited about what is still to come for me and my bull riding.”
Tanner Byrne of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, finished third with 261 points to earn $105,000. Eduardo Aparecido (Gouvelandia, Brazil) was fourth with 251 points, receiving $173,500, and Fabiano Vieira (Perola, Brazil) finished fifth with 258.5 points and $70,000.
With a score of 47.25 points in the championship round, Sweet Pro’s Long John (D&H Cattle Co.) became the 2015 PBR world champion bull, bucking off Fabiano in 7.41 seconds to earn the honor. He bested 2015 ABBI Classic world champion Bruiser, also owned by D&H Cattle Co., by two points.
“It’s our job to prepare the bulls as best we can so they can perform to the best of their ability,” stock contractor H.D. Page said. “That’s the most important part of this job for me.”
For the second consecutive year, Chad Berger was named PBR’s Stock Contractor of the Year. Chad earned the honor from 2007-09 and again in 2014.
On Thursday night after Round 2, Kaique Pacheco from Itatiba, Brazil, earned PBR Rookie of the Year honors. He went 3-for-6 in the event and ended the 2015 season as No. 2 in PBR world standings.
Our thanks to Heather Croze of PBR for her reporting and contributing photographer Tom Donoghue for his arena-side action photos.
Here are the Top Six finishers: 1) Cooper Davis, 1,300 points; 2) J.B. Mauney, 1,000 points; 3) Tanner Byrne, 680 points; 4) Eduardo Aparecido, 610 points;
5) Fabiano Vieira, 420 points; and 6) Silvano Alves, 290 points.
For now, the Stetsons and spurs depart town today, but they’ll be back from Dec. 3-12 for the 2015 National Finals Rodeo, also at the Thomas & Mack.
Robin Leach of “Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous” fame has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past 15 years giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.
Follow Las Vegas Sun Entertainment + Luxury Senior Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.