Is two-time PBR champ (and UNLV student) McBride ready to call it quits?

Justin McBride hoists one of his PBR trophies.

Expect a big announcement this afternoon (Tuesday) from former UNLV student Justin McBride, who went on to become two-time Professional Bull Riders World Champion. He will lay out his career plans at the Silverton casino lodge, which will be party headquarters for this year’s upcoming PBR World Finals.

Justin’s fellow bull riders Sean Willingham and Brendon Clark will join him to host the PBR events starting Halloween Eve and running through the following Saturday, Nov. 8. Each night there will be a bull-riding contest with a $1,000 prize for the blondes and brunettes willing to wear bikinis.

Leach Blog Photo

Justin McBride.

The last time I interviewed Justin, he told me he was seriously thinking about quitting the sport possibly even without trying to nail a third win at this year’s 2008 Ride. Last year the former Vegas resident earned a record $1.86 million for the season including the $1 million championship bonus. Justin used the winnings to pay off a 3,200-acre ranch he purchased in Sayre, Okla., with his wife and 2-year-old daughter, Addison. To date, Justin’s total career earnings are pennies shy of $5 million. But he couldn’t ride for six months after December surgery for his wrecked shoulders. The 28-year-old cowboy told me that he’d definitely quit before his 30th birthday, but it now looks as if he won’t ride at the Thomas & Mack Center finals getting underway in 10-days time.

Justin was shot with antibiotics last year to combat the effects of a battle with viral meningitis, but he’s also fought an appalling list of injuries sustained from the toughest sport on dirt. Justin has suffered a punctured lung, broken ribs, a broken leg, a broken ankle held together with pins, and he dislocated both shoulders from battling the bucking bulls.

He told me: “It’s a wild adventure for 8 seconds. Sometimes it goes in a flash and other times it seems like an eternity. But you do it for the ultimate feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment. Sure there’s an adrenaline rush like no other -- however hurt you are its addictive. It’s not the first time I’ve had to ride injured or ill -– and its not going to be my last. It’s the nature of this sport. You’ve got to play to get paid so I’m going to ride no matter if I am sick or injured. You understand when you start out in this sport that there are no guaranteed paydays. If you're gonna do well and make a living, you're gonna ride with injuries."

In eight years on the PBR tour, Justin has amassed career winnings of more than $3 million, plus another $687,175 this season -- and maybe the $1 million bonus before Sunday. "It's always been about winning for the sake of winning," he said. "That's always been my greatest motivation. I hate losing more than I like winning. Its still in my heart to be a champion but the time is getting nearer when I have to call it quits.”

The PBR, founded just 16 years ago, has held its championships in Vegas for 14 of those years adding tens of millions of dollars in non-gaming revenues to our city coffers. Randy Bernard, the PBR’s CEO, told me that the sport is growing so fast he’d like to catch-up to NASCAR fever levels one day. He asked me to clear up a misconception about the bulls: “They are trained to buck like this for the eight seconds. There is no cruelty and it’s absolutely untrue that their nuts are held tight in a belt to cause the legendary wild ride. Most of them simply stop bucking after eight seconds.” I’m happy to set the record straight! Randy says that this year the entire two weeks of bull riding will all be HQ’d at the Thomas & Mack Center.


Just as Luxe Life reported earlier today, former UNLV student Justin McBride has called it quits- - and he'll end his 10th year of professional bull-riding after the PBR Finals, which get underway next Friday (October 31) and run at Thomas & Mack until Nov. 8.

It was at 3 p.m. today at the PBR headquarters in the Silverton Lodge and Casino that Justin announced: "Vegas will be my final ride of my career." Then in a telephone call to me seconds later he added: "It shook everybody up but there were no tears on my part. I'm not sad. I've had a great run and now I'm excited about what new career opportunities lie ahead.

"I had about six to eight months recuperating from double shoulder surgery in December for me to think about it. That was a long time to make a decision but there was one defining moment that finally convinced me."

Luxe Life will have that " defining moment" and the rest of our interview with Justin posted here tomorrow -- so be sure to check back then and see how his mindset is for winning this year's championship despite being away for so much of the grueling long season!


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