Proving the axiom, "If you mess with the bull, you get the horns," Professional Bull Riders (PBR) promotes the sport of professional bull riding through more than 300 sanctioned events in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, and the US. Its flagship Built Ford Tough Series travels to about 30 cities and features the top riders in the sport. PBR also runs a Challenger Tour for up-and-coming riders, as well as two other tours for new riders. In addition, the organization sells sponsorships and negotiates rights to TV broadcasts. It boasts more than 1,200 members. Founded in 1992 by 20 riders, PBR is owned by private equity firm, Spire Capital Partners, along with a group of members and executives.
While live events draw healthy crowds, PBR also reaches its fans through broadcast partners FOX and NBC. The organization also publishes a bi-monthly magazine, Pro Bull Rider, and sells a variety of licensed merchandise.
Spire Capital, which also owns catalog company SkyMall, acquired its majority stake in PBR for about $95 million in 2007. The bull riding organization is using the proceeds of the investment to fund expansion into more US markets, as well as internationally.
PBR goes to great lengths to protect the bulls, its "animal athletes," a nod not only to animal rights issues but also to its fans, many of whom follow the bulls as much as the riders. – less