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Professional Bull Riders (PBR)

Red-Hot Ezekiel Mitchell Wins Round 1 of PBR Unleash The Beast Event in Chicago

Joao Ricardo Vieira continues quest to become oldest PBR World Champion in history with Top-5 effort in opening round of competition from Allstate Arena



CHICAGO – On a snowy Friday evening in the greater Chicago area, Ezekiel Mitchell (Rockdale, Texas) was red-hot as the 12th PBR (Professional Bull Riders) Unleash The Beast event in the Windy City got underway. As one of 13 riders to cover their opening-round draw, Mitchell won Round 1 of the tour stop inside Allstate Arena, surging to an early lead at the PBR Tractor Supply Co. Invitational.

“I’m going to try to win this thing tomorrow and then win the world”

Ezekiel Mitchell

“I’m going to try to win this thing tomorrow and then win the world,” Mitchell said moments after the win atop the Can-Am Cage. “I thank all the fans for being here and God for allowing me to be on the stage.”

Mitchell earned his first round win of the 2022 season when he outlasted Crime Time (C Check Bucking Bulls). Reaching the requisite 8, Mitchell was marked an unrivaled 88.5 points.

ezekiel mitchell rides crime time for 88.5 points / video courtesy of pbr to tenn texas

He earned 28 world points for the score and leads the No. 2 contender in the aggregate by 0.5 points.

Joao Ricardo Vieira’s (Itatinga, Brazil) quest to become the oldest PBR World Champion in history continued in Round 1 as the stoic Brazilian tied for fifth. Should the 37-year-old earn his first gold buckle at season’s end, he would surpass Adriano Moraes (Cachoeira Paulista, Brazil), who won his third title in 2006 at age 36.

joao ricardo vieira rides midnight rain for 86.25 points / video courtesy of pbr to tenn texas

One of three contenders to earn an 86.25-point score, Vieira covered Midnight Rain (Staci Wilks/N Bar Ranch/Clay Struve/Dakota Rodeo/Chad Berger).

Daylon Swearingen (Piffard, New York) and Joao Henrique Lucas (Bastos, Brazil) also registered 86.25-point rides to split fifth, riding Poncho Villa (K-C Bucking Bulls/Bull Creek Bucking Bulls) and The Hard Stuff (K-C Bucking Bulls/Bull Creek Bucking Bulls), respectively.

daylon swearingen rides poncho villa for 86.25 points / video courtesy of pbr to tenn texas

Vieira, Swearingen and Lucas each left Allstate Arena with 14 world points. 

Continuing his resurgent 2022 campaign, Cole Melancon (Sour Lake, Texas), who entered the year with a dismal buckoff streak of 35 bulls, was second in Round 1.

Melancon was sensational atop Short Stuff (C Check Bucking Bulls), matching the bovine athlete jump-for-jump en route to an 88-point score.

Now 3-for-6 thus far in 2022, Melancon’s latest score earned him 18 world points.

Third was Manoelito de Souza Junior (Itamira, Brazil), netting 17 world points.

manoelito de souza junior rides god’s plan for 87 points / video courtesy of pbr to tenn texas

The 26-year-old’s bronze showing was earned courtesy of his 87-point score atop God’s Plan (C Check Bucking Bulls).

Rounding out the Top 5 in fourth was Chase Dougherty (Decatur, Texas).

Dougherty rode Lil Hott (Stinger/Brunner/Clay Struve/Dakota Rodeo/Chad Berger) for 86.5 points to net 16 points in the early 2022 PBR World Championship race.

Action for the 2022 PBR Tractor Supply Co. Invitational will conclude with Round 2 and the championship round on Saturday, January 15. Action gets underway at 6:45 p.m. CST.

PBR RidePass on PlutoTV will offer re-airs and on-demand replays of every PBR Unleash The Beast event. PBR RidePass is available on desktops, laptops and mobile devices via Tune to channel 720 for the latest programming schedule, and click here for on-demand PBR programming.

PBR Unleash The Beast
PBR Tractor Supply Co. Invitational
Allstate Arena – Chicago, Illinois
Event Leaders (Round 1-Round 2-Round 3-Event Aggregate-Event Points)

1. Ezekiel Mitchell, 88.5-0-0-88.50-28 Points.

2. Cole Melancon, 88-0-0-88.00-18 Points.

3. Manoelito de Souza Junior, 87-0-0-87.00-17 Points.

4. Chase Dougherty, 86.5-0-0-86.50-16 Points.

5. João Ricardo Vieira, 86.25-0-0-86.25-14 Points.

(tie). Daylon Swearingen, 86.25-0-0-86.25-14 Points.

(tie). João Henrique Lucas, 86.25-0-0-86.25-14 Points.

8. Stetson Lawrence, 86-0-0-86.00-12 Points.

9. Eli Vastbinder, 85.5-0-0-85.50-11 Points.

10. Silvano Alves, 85.25-0-0-85.25-10 Points.

11. Dalton Kasel, 85-0-0-85.00-8.5 Points.

(tie). Keyshawn Whitehorse, 85-0-0-85.00-8.5 Points.

13. Dener Barbosa, 82.25-0-0-82.25-8 Points.

Kyler Oliver, 0-0-0-0.00

Mason Taylor, 0-0-0-0.00

Andrew Alvidrez, 0-0-0-0.00

Claudio Montanha Jr., 0-0-0-0.00

Adriano Salgado, 0-0-0-0.00

Jesse Petri, 0-0-0-0.00

Mauricio Gulla Moreira, 0-0-0-0.00

Cody Teel, 0-0-0-0.00

Jess Lockwood, 0-0-0-0.00

Marcelo Procopio Pereira, 0-0-0-0.00

Tye Chandler, 0-0-0-0.00

Kaique Pacheco, 0-0-0-0.00

Derek Kolbaba, 0-0-0-0.00

Taylor Toves, 0-0-0-0.00

Release was provided Courtesy of PBR to Tenn Texas Radio
Photo / Video By: Andy Watson / Bull Stock Media

Headquartered in Pueblo, Colo., PBR was created in 1992 by a group of 20 visionary bull riders who broke away from the traditional rodeo scene, seeking mainstream attention, new riches and a livelihood for future generations of cowboys for the most popular discipline in rodeo, bull riding.

“We wanted to create a better product for the fans, so that when they tuned in they were seeing the best of the best every time,” said PBR co-founder and nine-time World Champion Ty Murray. “Those expectations have been exceeded immensely, and the fact that this sport continues to grow is a gratifying notion, one that supports all the hard work and dedication of every member of the PBR.”

The founders believed that bull riding deserved to be in the limelight and could succeed as a standalone sport. Each rider invested a hard-earned $1,000, some borrowing from family and friends, to start the PBR.

“This is the only sport in the world that I can take anyone to see, whether they know anything about it or not, and I guarantee you that they won’t be able to take their eyes off of it,” Murray said.

In 2007, Spire Capital Partners finalized a deal with PBR to acquire the interests of many of the retired founding riders and invest in the growth of the organization. Those first 20 bull riders had turned their $1,000 into millions.

In May 2015, PBR was acquired by Endeavor, a global leader in sports, entertainment and fashion.

More than 500 bull riders from around the world including the United States, Australia, Brazil, Canada and Mexico hold PBR memberships. They compete in more than 200 bull riding events each year on the nationally-televised Unleash The Beast series, Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour and Touring Pro Division, in addition to those held by international divisions in Australia, Brazil, Canada and Mexico.

For every rider, the ultimate goal is to qualify for the PBR World Finals, the richest bull riding event on the planet, with the season champion receiving the golden World Championship buckle and $1 million bonus.

The 20 original founders took a substantial gamble when pooling their limited resources to fund the grassroots operation. Yet, the risk has certainly paid off. Investors like Spire Capital Partners and Endeavor, and partnerships with Ford, Monster Energy, Wrangler, and the city of Las Vegas have helped the PBR annually award more than $10 million.

The success of PBR has made it one of the most prolific sports on television. The premier series is televised weekly on CBS Sports, CBS Sports Network and networks around the world. Several times in 2020, PBR was the second most-watched sport on television, trailing only the NFL. In 2019 PBR extended its broadcast relationship with the network inking an agreement ensuring CBS will remain PBR’s television home the next 10 years. Additionally, RidePass, the league’s 24/7 over-the-top (OTT) digital network launched in 2018 brings every moment of elite tour action to fans as well as the Velocity Tour, Global Cup and marquee rodeo events.

Collectively, PBR broadcasts reach 250MM households in more than 20 countries, and RidePass brings its growing subscriber base more than 150 rodeo and PBR events live and on-demand.

On social media, from January through November 2020, PBR generated more than 1.7 billion impressions on social media, 606 million video views and 629 million video minutes viewed. PBR’s channels are recognized to have among the most fan engagement of all major sports.

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