With his win at the Guymon (Okla.) Pioneer Days Rodeo, steer wrestler Luke Branquinho became the 71st cowboy in PRCA history to surpass $1 million in career earnings.
"I knew it was close, but I didn't pay much attention to it. Growing up you see all these guys pass over the mark, granted it took them longer because the rodeos didn't pay as well, but being able to cross it in my eighth year as a professional is pretty special," the Los Alamos, California cowboy said. "I just wish I had that $1 million. No matter what milestones pass, $1 million, $2 million or whatever, a lot of that goes straight to expenses."
With total money of $1,004,232 he is in 70th place, just $767 behind six-time World Champion All-Around Cowboy Tom Ferguson and $2,158 back of another soon-to-be-Hall-of-Famer Bobby Hurley in 68th place. Branquinho is just the first of what figures to be a flood of newly minted millionaires this year.
Bull rider Myron Duarte is just $7,799 shy of the milestone ($992,613), with tie-down roper Jeff Chapman ($979,634), reigning World Champion Heeler Walt Woodard ($977,359), 2000 World Champion Bull Rider Cody Hancock ($975,679), 2006 World Champion Bull Rider B.J. Schumacher ($973,692) and team roper David Key ($972,709) all within $30,000 of the mark at press time.
Destined for even more elite company this summer is tie-down roper Mike Johnson. The 22-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier is just $34,878 shy of becoming the 14th cowboy in history to reach $2 million in earnings and three team ropers-Mike Beers, Speed Williams and Jake Barnes-have a shot at that exclusive club by season's end.
All-around cowboy Joe Beaver's return to competition this year has thus far yielded $22,743 and pushed his PRCA career record total to $2,895,197. He is followed by saddle bronc rider Billy Etbauer ($2,704,412) and all around cowboy Trevor Brazile ($2,682,771), who last month moved into third place ahead of Fred Whitfield ($2,672,408).