Joao Ricardo Vieira, a Brazilian who lives in Decatur, won the Professional Bull Riders Dr Pepper Iron Cowboy V and its $50,000 winner’s prize after staying on longer than his challenger in the final round.
When the title was at stake in the finals, it was a showdown between Vieira, 29, and 19-year-old rookie Gage Gay before 37,716 spectators at AT&T Stadium.
Gay was bucked off of 2012 World Champion Bull Asteroid in 1.45 seconds. Vieira clinched the title after staying on a Mick E Mouse for 2.42 seconds.
“It was an honor to win because you are riding against the best riders and the best bulls,” Vieira said.
After winning the Iron Cowboy V title, Vieira faced Bushwacker, the defending World Champion Bull in a featured match to cap the performance. Had he stayed on, he would have earned $1 million. But he was bucked off in 2.42 seconds.
“He’s a big bull,” Vieira said of Bushwacker. “I really felt like I could ride him, but he was too strong.”
It’s the second time that the PBR has featured a $1 million match ride in its 21-year history.
In 2003, former world champion Chris Shivers faced World Champion Bull Little Yellow Jacket for $1 million in Colorado Springs, Colo. Shivers was bucked off in 1.8 seconds.
Unlike the majority of PBR shows that determine the champion by an aggregate score, the Iron Cowboy V champion is decided by a tournament format. The competition began with 24 riders and the field was narrowed down to two riders for the final round.
Thoughout the performance, the rider with the highest score moves onto the next round. But if both cowboys are bucked off, the cowboy who stayed on the longest advances.
“You’ve got to be ready mentally and physically,” Vieira said.