Best Bull Riders of All Time
Bull riding is a brutal and unforgiving sport. Professional bull riders lead a nomadic existence, traveling to rodeos in town to town looking for paydays to keep their careers going and gas tanks full. They do it at the expense of their bodies, dealing with injuries that would make NFL players blush.
For a select few, the journey is a road to riches. It can change their lives and make them rodeo superstars around the world. At what cost is up to them, although most bull riders don’t ride past their late 30s, if they’re lucky.
These are the best bull riders of all time, and this is how much they make.
30. Edevaldo Ferreira
Country: Brazil (Andradina, Sao Paulo)
Career highlights: PBR World Finals fourth place (2012)
Total rides (career): 334
Money earned: $1,357,598.42
Note: All earnings are through March 2021.
Bottom Line: Edevaldo Ferreira
Brazilian rider Edevaldo Ferreira had his best season in 2012, when he won the Touring Pro Division championship, PBR Brazil title and finished fourth at the World Finals.
Ferreira raked in $675,634 that season, which was 10 times more than he made any other year of his career.
Ferreira’s last season was maybe the evidence he needed to hang it up as he made just a shade over $500.
29. Shane Proctor
Country: United States (Grand Coulee, Washington)
Career highlights: PRCA bull riding champion (2011), nine-time PBR finalist
Total rides (career): 683
Money earned: $1,374,049.09
Bottom Line: Shane Proctor
Shane Proctor came out of rural Washington to craft a career that saw him reach great heights, but even by his own admission, he was never among the elite cowboys he looked up to.
He put together three seasons where he made at least $200,000, including a career-high $250,492 in 2011, which was the same year he won the PRCA Bull Riding championship.
Semi-retired, he only registered 10 rides during the 2018 season, four during 2019 and 16 in 2020.
28. Sean Willingham
Country: United States (Summerville, Georgia)
Career highlights: 12-time PBR finalist
Total rides (career): 537
Money earned: $1,420,981.32
Bottom Line: Sean Willingham
The lone Georgia native on the PBR Tour when he retired in 2019, Sean Willingham had a lengthy, 17-year career in bull riding.
Willingham was a freak athlete who was a four-year starter at point guard for Chatooga High School and known for dunking on opponents — at just 5-foot-11, 165 pounds.
He suffered through a broken neck, dislocated hip, torn groin and multiple ligament tears in both knees throughout his bull riding career.
Willingham earned a career-high $248,313 in 2006.
27. Austin Meier
Country: United States (Kinta, Oklahoma)
Career highlights: Frost/Thurman Award (2012), eight-time PBR finalist
Total rides (career): 485
Money earned: $1,444,850.23
Bottom Line: Austin Meier
Forced to retire early due to a multitude of injuries, including chronic back pain, Oklahoma native Austin Meier boasted a gaudy, 44.8 percent ride completion rate for his career.
"No matter what I did, my back always just hurt," Meier told The Oklahoman in 2015.
He had his best season in 2012, earning $311,000, which was also part of a five-year stretch where he won at least $100,000 each season.
26. Mike White
Country: United States (De Kalb, Texas)
Career highlights: PBR Rookie of the Year (1999), PBR Hall of Fame (2012), nine-time PBR finalist
Total rides (career): 254
Money earned: $1,463,243.77
Bottom Line: Mike White
Mike White became the first rider in PBR history to win an event three years in a row, taking the Ty Murray Invitational in Albuquerque, New Mexico, from 2002 to 2004.
He also was the first rider to stay on legendary bull Troubadour for eight seconds, accomplishing the feat in 2008.
White finished his career with 12 PBR wins, 42 top-five finishes and 67 top-10 finishes.
He now works as the safety coordinator at PBR events and hosts the Mike White Touring Pro Invitational.
25. Ross Coleman
Country: United States (Molalla, Oregon)
Career highlights: PBR Hall of Fame (2012), 10-time PBR finalist
Total rides (career): 420
Money earned: $1,489,063.50
Bottom Line: Ross Coleman
One of just a few West Coast bull riders to make the top earners list, Oregon native Ross Coleman still finds his name among the top earners in the history of his sport almost a decade after retirement.
Coleman started riding ponies when he was a boy growing up on his family’s farm and his father, Steve, also was a rodeo cowboy.
In 2001, Coleman set a then-record for most money won on a single ride for collecting a $100,000 check for defeating bull Tuff-E-Nuff.
24. Wiley Peterson
Country: United States (Fort Hall, Idaho)
Career highlights: World Finals Event champion (2007), 10-time PBR finalist
Total rides (career): 399
Money earned: $1,512,269.36
Bottom Line: Wiley Peterson
Wiley Peterson, a member of the Shoshone-Bannock tribe, made history post-career by assembling the first All-Native American team of bull riders in history to compete in the Professional Bull Riders Global Cup USA in 2019.
An Idaho native, Peterson competed for Idaho State University in college and finished third in the world in 2003 and fourth in 2007.
In total, Peterson ended up winning a total of 13 televised events during his pro career.
23. Eduardo Aparecido
Country: Brazil (Gouvelandia, Goiás)
Career highlights: Seven-time PBR finalist
Total rides (career): 306
Money earned: $1,782,685.78
Bottom Line: Eduardo Aparecido
Eduardo Aparecido is one of a long line of Brazilian bull riders who grew up idolizing legendary rider Silvano Alves.
Aparecido made his pro debut on the PBR Brazil Tour in 2011 and has a high rate of success riding bulls ranked in the top 1,000, converting on 41.2 percent of his opportunities.
He was off to a great start in 2019 with over $200,000 in earnings before a broken jaw sidelined him for most of the spring. He bounced back in August 2019 with a win at the PBR Music City Knockout in Nashville, Tennessee, and has been riding strong again ever since.
22. Marco Eguchi
Country: Brazil (Poá, Sao Paulo)
Career highlights: World Finals Event champion (2018), Frost/Thurman Award (2018), six-time PBR finalist
Total rides (career): 331
Money earned: $1,773,596.03
Bottom Line: Marco Eguchi
Marco Eguchi made his professional debut on the PBR Brazil Tour in 2008 at just 18 years old.
He had his best season in 2018, winning the World Finals Event, Frost/Thurman Award for highest score at the PBR Finals and bringing in a career-high $445,504 for the year.
Eguchi’s 2018 run was something of a surprise as his career completion rate has hovered around 37 percent for years.
21. Chase Outlaw
Country: United States (Hamburg, Arkansas)
Career highlights: Velocity Tour champion (2013), Touring Pro Division champion (2013)
Total rides (career): 378
Money earned: $1,782,670.17
Bottom Line: Chase Outlaw
There might not be a tougher athlete in all of professional sports than 27-year-old Hamburg, Arkansas, native Chase Outlaw.
What’s the evidence? At the 2018 Cheyenne (Wyoming) Frontier Days, Outlaw was riding the bull, War Cloud, without a helmet when his face collided with one of the bull’s horns. He thought he broke his nose — but instead had 30 face fractures that required 68 screws and 12 plates.
He had the best season of his career in 2019 and was ranked No. 1 or No. 2 in the world for most of the season. And he rides with a helmet.
20. Cody Nance
Country: United States (Paris, Tennessee)
Career highlights: Touring Division champion (2016), PBR Rookie of the Year (2009), 10-time PBR finalist
Total rides (career): 583
Money earned: $1,667,268.61
Bottom Line: Cody Nance
Cody Nance began riding bulls at 14 years old while growing up in Huntington, Tennessee.
He’s been consistent but never had a real breakout season on the tour, earning a career-high $292,000 in 2013, which was the same year as his career-best finish of fourth place at the PBR Finals.
No stranger to injuries, Nance has suffered through a broken arm, broken leg, broken ribs and has torn the ACL in both of his knees.
19. Ryan Dirteater
Country: United States (Hulbert, Oklahoma)
Career highlights: World Finals event champion (2016)
Total rides (career): 399
Money earned: $1,796,832.72
Bottom Line: Ryan Dirteater
The son of a full-blooded Cherokee, Ryan Dirteater has been at his best in his native Oklahoma.
He won back-to-back events at the 2018 and 2019 Unleash the Beast Invitational in front of sellout crowds at Chesapeake Energy Arena, which also is the home of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Dirteater earned a career-high $498,000 in 2016, the same year he won the World Finals, and made at least $100,000 in nine out of 14 seasons.
18. Luke Snyder
Country: United States (Raymore, Missouri)
Career highlights: World Finals event champion (2001), PBR Rookie of the Year (2001), PBR Ring of Honor (2015)
Total rides (career): 405
Money earned: $1,728,916.04
Bottom Line: Luke Snyder
Missouri native Luke Snyder burst onto the scene in 2001, becoming the World Finals event champion and PBR Rookie of the Year.
Over his career, Snyder became known as the "Iron Man" of bull riding by competing in a record 275 consecutive PBR and NFR events.
One of the more recognizable faces in bull riding during his career, People Magazine covered his wedding to Jen Manna in Branson, Missouri, in 2012.
He retired in 2013 and went to work for Bass Pro Shops.
17. Fabiano Vieira
Country: Brazil (Pérola, Paraná)
Career highlights: Eight-time PBR finalist
Total rides (career): 404
Money earned: $1,870,761.48
Bottom Line: Fabiano Vieira
A model of consistency for over a decade, Brazil’s Fabiano Vieira earned at least $100,000 for eight consecutive seasons from 2010 to 2017. He’s earned over $250,000 three times, with a career-high $285,000 in 2017.
Vieira won the PBR Long Live Cowboys Classic in Columbus, Ohio, in 2018 but struggled in 2019, earning 4,645. He bounced back in 2020 to make over $52,000.
He also has a respectable 33.1 percent ride rate on Top 100 bulls in his career.
16. L.J. Jenkins
Country: United States (Porum, Oklahoma)
Career highlights: World Finals event champion (2006), Missouri Sports Hall of Fame (2016), 10-time PBR Finalist
Total rides (career): 564
Money earned: $1,838,247.23
Bottom Line: L.J. Jenkins
Missouri native L.J. Jenkins was one of the most consistent bull riders on the pro circuits for the first decade of his career, qualifying for 10 consecutive PBR Finals.
Tragedy struck Jenkins in 2015, when he fractured his C-1 vertebra competing at an event in Nampa, Idaho.
The injury forced Jenkins to retire from the sport, and he transitioned to raising bulls on his ranch in Oklahoma and running his own semi-pro bull riding circuit.
15. Valdiron de Oliveira
Country: Brazil (Bálsamo, Sao Paulo)
Career highlights: Frost/Thurman Award (2010), 11-time PBR finalist
Total rides (career): 527
Money earned: $2,246,571.52
Bottom Line: Valdiron de Oliveira
Valdiron de Oliveira was raised in the small town of Tres Rios, Brazil, some 90 miles into the mountains outside of Rio de Janeiro.
He worked on ranches for what he estimates was one dollar per week until he was 16 years old. Then, he began to ride bulls in competitions.
Oliveira also crafted a respectable career in mixed martial arts and fought in UFC for several years, a sport for which he’s much more well known in his native country.
14. Joao Ricardo Vieira
Country: Brazil (Itatinga, Sao Paulo)
Career highlights: PBR Rookie of the Year (2013), Six-time PBR finalist
Total rides (career): 386
Money earned: $2,760,656.07
Bottom Line: Joao Ricardo Vieira
One in a long line of great Brazilian riders, Joao Ricardo Vieira has seen almost a quarter of his career earnings come from one event, the Iron Cowboy, which he has won three times, including in 2019.
While he hasn’t had a breakout season comparable to some of the top competitors in his sport yet, Vieira has been a model of consistency, with winnings of at least $300,000 in six of nine seasons.
13. Robson Palermo
Country: Brazil (Rio Bronco, Acre)
Career highlights: World Finals event champion (2008, 2011, 2012), Frost/Thurman Award (2011)
Total rides (career): 412 rides
Money earned: $2,590,230.82
Bottom Line: Robson Palermo
Robson Palermo grew up on his family’s cattle ranch in the Amazon and was entering bull riding competitions by the time he was 14 years old.
Palermo is the only three-time PBR World Finals event champion and helped lead his native country to back-to-back wins in the PBR World Cup in 2007 and 2008.
Known as one of the gentlemen of the sport, Palermo has been a longtime advocate of the "Brazilian rope" tying method, which has been criticized by some on the PBR.
12. Cooper Davis
Country: United States (Jasper, Texas)
Career highlights: PBR world champion (2016), World Finals event champion (2015), Frost/Thurman Award (2015)
Total rides (career): 384
Money earned: $3,022,764.57
Bottom Line: Cooper Davis
At just 26 years old, Texas native Cooper Davis is one of the elite bull riders in the world, already has a world title and was also profiled in a gut-wrenching piece in The New York Times in 2016.
His consistency on tour has been something to behold. While some riders may languish in feast or famine years, Davis has average earnings of $488,000 over six seasons from 2015 to 2020.
11. Kaique Pacheco
Country: Brazil (Itatiba, Sao Paulo)
Career highlights: PBR world champion (2018), PBR Rookie of the Year (2015)
Total rides (career): 299
Money earned: $3,060,891.01
Bottom Line: Kaique Pacheco
At just 24 years old, Kaique Pacheco is the latest in a long line of elite bull riders from Brazil and already has a world title under his belt in 2018, when he raked in $1.535 million in earnings.
Pacheco capped off his world championship season with an easy run to the title, clinching early enough to sit out the final round. Which was good, because he tore both the PCL and MCL in his left knee in the next-to-last event in 2018.
He bounced back has earned over $230,000 from 2019 to through February 2021.
10. Renato Nunes
Country: Brazil (Buritama, Sao Paulo)
Career highlights: PBR world champion (2010), World Finals event champion (2010)
Total rides (career): 408
Money earned: $2,979,218.16
Bottom Line: Renato Nunes
Brazilian bull rider Renato Nunes surprised everyone when he retired in 2015, but he did so because he wanted to avoid sustaining any major injuries.
While he transitioned to a successful ranching career in his home country, Nunes was one of the more respected riders on the tour for his decade-long career, qualifying for the PBR Finals 10 out of 11 seasons.
Nunes made a whopping $1.68 million in 2010, the year he won his lone world title.
9. Adriano Moraes
Country: Brazil (Cachoeira Paulist, Sao Paulo)
Career highlights: PBR world champion (1994, 2001, 2006), Touring Pro Division champion (2002, 2003), Frost/Thurman Award (1996, 2006)
Total rides (career): 378
Money earned: $3,085,286.06
Bottom Line: Adriano Moraes
Born and raised on a rural farm outside of Sao Paolo, Brazil, Adriano Moraes became one of the greatest bull riders of all time, the first three-time PBR world champion and the main reason PBR made the move to expand to Brazil.
Moraes was on track to win another world title in 1997 before a broken leg sidelined him, and his $1.38 million earned in 2006, the year of his final world title, was three times more than any other rider that year.
8. Kody Lostroh
Country: United States (Longmont, Colorado)
Career highlights: PBR world champion (2009), PBR Rookie of the Year (2005)
Total rides (career): 517
Money earned: $3,263,027.20
Bottom Line: Kody Lostroh
Kody Lostroh won three consecutive Colorado High School Bull Riding Championships before earning a scholarship to the University of Wyoming, but left school early to go pro.
Lostroh was a star on the bull riding tours right away, earning Rookie of the Year honors and winning his lone world title four years later in 2009.
Health issues dogged Lostroh late in his career after he was diagnosed with a tumor around his cartoid artery that required surgery, and he retired not long after.
7. Mike Lee
Country: United States (Decatur, Texas)
Career highlights: PBR world champion (2004), World Finals event champion (2004)
Total rides (career): 796
Money earned: $3,913,035.62
Bottom Line: Mike Lee
Montana native Mike Lee qualified for the PBR World Finals for a record 16 consecutive seasons and became the first person to win both the PBR World Championship and World Finals event in the same year, 2004.
Lee is also well known for becoming one of the first bull riders to fully embrace wearing protective headgear, crediting it for saving his life after he suffered a skull fracture and required brain surgery in 2003.
6. Chris Shivers
Country: United States (Jonesville, Louisiana)
Career highlights: PBR world champion (2000, 2003), Touring Pro Division champion (1997, 2000), Frost/Thurman Award (1997, 2001, 2012)
Total rides (career): 406
Money earned: $3,923,994.43
Bottom Line: Chris Shivers
One of the most respected bull riders in history, Chris Shivers was inducted into the PBR Hall of Fame in 2013, just one year after his retirement.
Shivers set the standard for bull riders the world over on the way to two world championships, becoming the first in his sport to hit the $1 million, $2 million and $3 million career earnings mark.
He also was the first bull rider to earn $300,000 in one season, doing so in 1998.
5. Jess Lockwood
Country: United States (Volborg, Montana)
Career highlights: PBR world champion (2017), PBR Rookie of the Year (2016)
Total rides (career): 230
Money earned: $4,210,395.35
Bottom Line: Jess Lockwood
Montana native Jess Lockwood became the youngest world champion in PBR history in 2017 at just 20 years old, and he has a shot at becoming one of the wealthiest bull riders of all time.
Lockwood’s early career hasn’t been without controversy. In 2018, he was fined an undisclosed amount by the PBR after using a racially insensitive comment to describe Native Americans on Twitter. Lockwood deleted the tweet and issued a public apology afterward.
In August 2019, he took back the world No. 1 ranking.
4. Justin McBride
Country: United States (Elk City, Oklahoma)
Career highlights: PBR world champion (2005, 2007), PBR Ring of Honor (2009), Texas Cowboys Hall of Fame (2016)
Total rides (career): 384
Money earned: $5,171,799.35
Bottom Line: Justin McBride
Justin McBride was the first bull rider to earn $5 million for his career and pulled a Barry Sanders and retired earlier than most of his competitors, ending his career after just over a decade.
McBride's career peaked in 2007 when he won his second world title and earned $1.8 million on the tour, including a one-shot ride on Scene of the Crash for $200,000.
McBride retired early in order to transition into a career as a country singer, performing at the Grand Ole Opry in 2009 and putting out three CDs and a live DVD in the ensuing years.
3. Guilherme Marchi
Country: Brazil (Tres Lagoas, Matto Grasso do Sul)
Career highlights: PBR world champion (2008), World Finals event champion (2005)
Total rides (career): 721
Money earned: $5,333,428.48
Bottom Line: Guilherme Marchi
The first rider in PBR history to hit 600 career rides, Guilherme Marchi announced his retirement following the 2018 season and capping off his career at an event in his native Brazil.
Marchi is one of the most consistent riders of all time, as proven by qualifying for 15 consecutive PBR Finals.
He finished as world runner-up for three consecutive seasons before winning his only world championship in 2008, when he earned $1.5 million — nearly three times as much as any other rider that season.
2. Silvano Alves
Country: Brazil (Pilar Do Sul, Sao Paulo)
Career highlights: PBR world champion (2011, 2012, 2014), World Finals event champion (2014), PBR Rookie of the Year (2010)
Total rides (career): 630
Money earned: $6,188,844.81
Bottom Line: Silvano Alves
Silvano Alves isn’t just one of the greatest Brazilian bull riders of all time. He’s in the worldwide GOAT discussion for the sport.
He earned $1.8 million in his first 18 months as a professional, which is a record, as are his three event wins during his rookie season.
In 2011 and 2012, he became the first to win back-to-back bull riding world championships. And between 2014 and 2015, Alves completed 24 consecutive rides which are, no surprise, also a record.
1. J.B. Mauney
Country: United States (Statesville, North Carolina)
Career highlights: PBR world champion (2013, 2015), World Finals event champion (2009, 2013), PBR Rookie of the Year (2006)
Total rides (career): 765
Money earned: $7,432,984.12
Bottom Line: J.B. Mauney
North Carolina native and three-time PBR world champion J.B. Mauney became the first bull rider to pass the $7 million mark in career earnings in 2016.
He started early, with his family putting him on sheep by the time he was 3 years old (aka mutton bustin'), rode his first bull when he was 13, which was also the number of screws used to anchor his shoulder back in place after an injury in 2017.
Add it all up, and Mauney is most popular bull rider in the world.