This year’s rodeo is Dec. 6 – 15th and will feature 10 nights of the best contestants from the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association and Women’s Professional Rodeo Association. Up for grabs is over $6 million in prize money. Hoping to get a big share of that is steer wrestler Luke Branquinho from Los Alamos, who enters the rodeo in 4th place with $85,345 in regular season earnings. This is his eleventh qualification where he is pursuing his fourth world title. Branquinho is one of six Californians that will be competing.
Along with steer wrestling, the rodeo will crown champions in bareback riding, team roping, saddle bronc riding, tie-down roping, women’s barrel racing and bull riding. To qualify for the WNFR contestants had to be among the top 15 in the world standings.
They traveled across the United States paying their own entry fees and expenses hoping to earn enough money to be among the elite athletes that advance to rodeo’s championship event. The WNFR has seen continued growth in prize money and fan support since it moved to Las Vegas. Each contestant will compete in 10 individual rounds which will pay the winner $18,257. On Dec. 15th their total scores and times will be added together for average placings. First place in that category will win $46,820 and a saddle as the WNFR champion.
World championships are determined by adding a contestant’s WNFR and regular season earnings together. Those champions have the esteemed honor of wearing the traditional gold buckle that signifies they are the world’s best in the sport of rodeo.