Moolah. Cash. Dinero. Cheese. Greenbacks. Dead presidents. Scratch.
I’m talking about money.
I got to thinking about money not because I’m in Las Vegas, but because I just saw four-time World Champion Bareback Rider Bobby Mote become the seventh man in ProRodeo history to eclipse the $1 million mark in Wrangler National Finals Rodeo earnings. His runner-up finish and check for $15,018 in Round 6 pushed Mote’s career money total in the “Entertainment Capital of the World” to $1,008,814, and he joined Trevor Brazile, Cody Ohl, Billy Etbauer, Sherry Cervi, Fred Whitfield and Joe Beaver as Vegas millionaires.
Mote, who won his gold buckles in 2002, 2007 and from 2009-10, now has $2,591,057 in career earnings and passed ProRodeo Hall of Fame Saddle Bronc Rider Dan Mortensen for eighth place on rodeo’s all-time earnings list with a third-place check in Round 3.
Who is seventh? ProRodeo Hall of Fame Team Roper Clay O’Brien Cooper, who put another $19,002 in his career piggy bank after teaming with Aaron Tsinigine to win Round 6 to go to $2,626,343 in earnings.
Mote didn’t make any jokes about his wife going shopping or boast about being a millionaire when I chatted with him after the sixth round. He was just tickled to learn he’d notched another impressive career accomplishment.
“That means I’ve been here a long time and they’ve given me a lot of chances at it,” joked Mote, 38. “That’s cool. That’s a neat stat.
“I heard the other day I was getting close to it, and I didn’t know how close (I was), but that’s neat because there’s not a lot of guys who’ve done that.”
As expected, he was humbled by the achievement as well.
“It’s so easy to get focused on the competition side of it, but a person doesn’t want to take that for granted,” said Mote, who is competing in his 14th career Wrangler NFR. “I think about it when I’m going to the gym at 5 o’clock in the morning and I’m passing people who are riding their bike to work and who are probably happy they have a job so they can go feed their family. Us getting to do what we love to do and live this lifestyle, I don’t want to lose sight of how blessed we are.”
Up next will be four-time World Champion Luke Branquinho, who is $25,722 shy of the $1 million mark in Las Vegas. Eight-time World Champion Team Roper Rich Skelton follows and is $45,712 away from the plateau.
Speaking of money milestones, rookie bull rider Sage Kimzey hit one with his Round 5 victory on Monday night. He eclipsed Steve Woolsey’s 9-year-old record for season earnings by a rookie and added $15,018 to it on Tuesday night with a second-place finish.
Woolsey’s single-event rookie earnings mark was $197,646 in 2005, and he finished with a total of $202,128 that season thanks to some saddle bronc riding money. Kimzey’s impressive bank roll stands at $222,546, with four rounds and average money remaining, so he could obliterate the record and set a standard that could last for decades by continuing his stellar riding.
The 20-year-old Oklahoman knows full well the magnitude of his money record.
“It’s a great accomplishment any time you get to re-write the record books in ProRodeo, especially being as young as I am,” said Kimzey, who leads second-place Trey Benton III by $62,672 and leads the Wrangler NFR average standings. “The record books are the holy grail of our sport, and any time you get to mess with them, it’s fun. This year’s been amazing, and I can’t even put into words what it means to me.”
But don’t expect Kimzey to blow his winnings on fancy cars or frivolous expenditures. He has intelligent plans for his earnings.
“Land and black cows is all I’m buying right now,” he said. “We’ve got about 7,500 acres at the house, and I’m just building on that place. That way, I’ll have something to fall back on, because I do know I won’t be able to do this forever.”
Kimzey’s father, Ted, has offered him quality advice in the area of finances.
“My dad has seen so many bull riders who were great come through the ranks just like I have, but they blew it all away instead of taking care of it,” he said. “We’ve only got about 10 years in this sport to make all the money we can in it, and then we’re done and have to have something else to do. So, he’s helping me a lot by being my semi financial adviser, as well as my accountant.”
Barrel racer Fallon Taylor and three-time World Champion Bareback Rider Kaycee Feild also deserve a tip of the Resistol, as they have both eclipsed $200,000 in season earnings. Taylor has placed in five of six rounds for $72,332 in Las Vegas coin and leads the world standings with $203,803.
Feild has placed in four of six rounds and remains atop the world standings with $201,807.
Of course, I can’t talk about money without mentioning Trevor Brazile. The sport’s all-time leading money winner with $5,406,767 in career earnings has pocketed $65,895 in team roping and tie-down roping so far and stands at $369,015 for the season.
Brazile will likely hit $400,000 in season earnings for the fifth time in his career, but his massive record total of $507,921 from his Triple Crown-winning 2010 season is probably safe. It’s enough to make your head spin, but still fun to think about at the same time.
As for me, I’m just one magical slot machine spin away from joining them, and perhaps I’ll try my luck tonight. Maybe the Megabucks machine will smile upon me!