Fans Bullish on Growth of Bull Riding

A scene from the Professional Bull Riders Inc. 2009 World Finals in Las Vegas.
Kody Lostroh is on top of the bull-riding world tonight at the world finals in Las Vegas. The battle went down to the final round and for the champion it was not a ride in the park. CBS News correspondent Hari Sreenivasan has more on a sport that's winning more converts every week.

With the fireworks of a rock concert, and some of the biggest athletes you have ever seen - the bulls - professional bull riding is one of the fastest growing sports in the country.

"You're basically putting yourself on an animal that you've got no control over and he's the boss for eight seconds or a little longer," said rider Brendon Clark.

The 45 best bull riders in the world compete week after week to do more than just hang on for dear life. The riders earn points for how easy they make it look, and the bulls earn points for how hard and fast they kick the riders off.

"You want the bull that kicks the highest, jumps the highest, spins the fastest," said Randy Bernard, CEO of Professional Bull Riders, Inc.

Bernard, wearing a black hat and slinging a Blackberry, is riding on top of a $60 million enterprise that started with 20 bull riders putting up a $1,000 a piece to break the sport away from traditional rodeos.

That was 1992. Now there are more than 1,200 riders competing in five countries for more than $10 million in prize money a year. And yes, they are still bullish on growth.

"Right now we're up 8 percent overall for the entire year," Bernard said. "Even with the economy, this market here we're probably going be up 15-20 percent after this weekend."

The average rider on the PBR tour weighs 150 pounds. The average bull weighs 10 times as much. If the two are lucky, they'll be out there for eight seconds.

"When I die, I want to come back in the next world as a bull of mine," said bull owner Tom Teague.

A top-ranked bull can be worth as much as a million dollars.

"When you've got as much money in them as we have, you're going to make sure that you take excellent care of them," Teague said.

And when a bull does its job, it can be a real pain for the riders.

"Cracked my jaw, broke my nose, broke both hand," rider J.B. Mauney said recalling his list of injuries.

It is one of the most dangerous sports in the world.

So what makes Mauney what makes you want to go back on that bull after all that?

"It's all I ever done my whole life," he said. "Once you start doing it, it kind of gets into your blood."

It can also pay the bills. The 22-year-old Mauney has already earned more than $1.3 million - and the celebrity that comes with it.