LAS VEGAS ― Five years after cutting short one of the
greatest careers in PBR history, two-time World Champion
Justin McBride is returning to competition.
On Wednesday afternoon, prior to the opening round of the World
Finals, the 34-year-old, who has been working as a television
commentator since announcing his retirement at the conclusion of
the 2008 season, officially accepted an exemption to compete in
bull riding next year at the richest one-day rodeo in history.
The exemption ends two months of rumors and speculation.
In addition to trying to qualify for the bareback riding,
McBride is now guaranteed a spot in the draw for the bull riding
event at RFD-TV's THE AMERICAN, which will be held Sunday, March 2,
at AT&T Stadium-one day after the PBR hosts the Iron Cowboy
"I don't want to make a run at anything or go back to a
full-season of competition or anything like that," McBride said,
"but a onetime deal for $1 million makes a guy want to dust off his
Aside from some upcoming scheduled work in a practice pen
― he indicated his plan is to get his practice work in on
championship round-quality bulls and specifically named
Lightmaker's Rango ― McBride made
certain to indicate he will only return to bull riding for THE
"That's the key," McBride said. "It's a pay day.
"It's not like you have to go rodeo all season or ride bulls all
season. You don't have to go compete for a World Championship. You
have to win an event and you get a $1 million. Now that's easier
said than done. You're going to be going against the best guys in
each event, or women in the barrel racing, but it's the very
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"You're going to see big time bulls," he continued, "and you're
going to see really good horses there."
The Top 10 riders from the PBR following this week's conclusion
to the 2013 season will all be invited to compete along with the
winners of six qualifier events ― Touring Pro Division events
in Little Rock, Ark. (Skeeter Kingsolver); Las Vegas; Fort Worth,
Texas; Denver.; Pueblo, Colo., and Mesquite, Texas ― in
addition to any exemptions handed out by Rural Media Group CEO and
President Randy Bernard, who is the former CEO of the PBR.
As of now, there has been no indication whether or not two-time
World Champion Chris Shivers,
who was inducted into the Ring of Honor at a Heroes & Legends
ceremony on Tuesday night, will also compete.
"I wouldn't mind seeing Chris Shivers come out just to strap it
on one," McBride said. "I mean, guys like me and him don't know how
to make $1 million in one day other than doing something like
McBride is assured a spot in the draw for the bull riding
― unless Bernard hands out another exemption the bull riding
will feature 17 contestants with seven of them eligible for a share
of the $1 million bonus ― and recently made his first attempt
at qualifying for the bareback riding.
He rode, last weekend, at a Professional Rough Stock series in
Salina, Kan. The Top 5 finishers from five separate events
― McBride said he'll likely enter the last two ― taking
place before the end of the year will advance to the qualifier
finals in Mesquite, Texas, which takes place Feb. 21-23.
The Top 5 from that event will advance to THE AMERICAN.
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Until getting on a few practice horses the past few weeks, he
hasn't ridden bareback competitively since he attended the
University of Nevada ― Las Vegas on a rodeo scholarship. He
and college teammate Ross Coleman turned pro after
their freshman year in college and focused exclusively on the
"Now I have a reason to go get on some," McBride said. "I feel
like I cut that short ― like I cut that off. When I quit I
could do it as good as anybody, but that was a long time ago."
McBride last competed in a bareback riding competition at an
open rodeo in Seymour, Texas, in 1999 in an effort to win some
much-needed money to travel and enter Touring Pro Division events
his rookie season.
Once he made his PBR debut he didn't need money for long.
McBride is the richest Western athlete in history after having
earned in excess of $5.1 million in the arena, not including the
millions he earned in sponsorship money during a 10-year career in
which he set nearly every record.
In addition to a pair of world titles, which he won in 2005 and
again in 2007, he set the PBR mark for single-season event wins
with eight and the single-season earning mark with $1.8 million in
McBride was inducted into the Ring of Honor in 2009.
He retired prior to events like the Iron Cowboy, which will
anchor the historic March weekend, and Last Cowboy Standing.
However, he was still the first rider in PBR history to surpass $4
million and the only rider to reach $5 million in career earnings.
In 2007, he collected $200,000 for a single 8-second ride when he
covered Scene of the Crash in Columbus, Ohio.
It was also announced, on Wednesday, that the winner of the Iron
Cowboy V will get on Bushwacker for a chance to win a $1 million
bonus at the March 1 event.
While McBride said PBR riders "have been spoiled with big
paydays," THE AMERICAN's $2 million total purse for a single-day
event has never been done before.
"Guys who rodeo, this doesn't happen to them," McBride
concluded. "This will go down as a monumental event in the
"It's the kind of event that you're not going to say no."
Follow Keith Ryan Cartwright on Twitter @PBR_KRC