WEATHERFORD, Texas – Anthony Lucia has been a Las Vegas fixture every December since 2009 as host of Live with Lucia, presented by CINCH Jeans and Shirts, on the RideTV Stage during the Stetson Country Christmas at the Sands Expo.
This year, though, the Weatherford man will add another key component to his Sin City work as host of the National Finals Rodeo Welcome Reception and Back Number Ceremony, which takes place Tuesday, Dec. 5, at the South Point Hotel Casino & Spa.
“This is a huge milestone in my announcing career,” said Lucia, who was raised in rodeo and is a trick roper, team roper and, of course, announcer; in fact, he performed trick roping at the NFR four years in a row, from 2010-13. “To even be considered among the great announcers in our business is a great blessing.
“It’s exciting to get a job on such a fun night for contestants, sponsors and everyone that’s been behind them all year long.”
He is the son of Tommy Lucia, who was a contestant, rodeo clown and specialty act. For three straight years (2003-2005), the elder Lucia was the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association’s Specialty Act of the Year; he worked the NFR as both barrelman and specialty act, and in 2015, just a few months before his death, was inducted into the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum’s Rodeo Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City.
Anthony Lucia is just carrying on a family tradition, doing so on his terms. By introducing the 120 NFR qualifiers, he has the opportunity to tell a little about each contestant.
“When I got my scripts, I spent two weeks and wrote one or two lines for each contestant to make it special for them,” he said. “Because I know it’s a rodeo-family crowd, these people have watched these guys all year. They’re there to celebrate Las Vegas, the South Point and the best rodeo contestants in the world.
“I’ve taken a lot of pride in this. I’ve been part of the journey with some of these cowboys. Because I have competed, I know how hard it is to be at the top, and I can only imagine the joy and fulfillment in their hearts.”
It’s one of many things the Texan will be associated with during that special cowboy time in the Nevada desert. Live with Lucia will begin at 1 p.m. daily beginning Thursday, July 7, and will feature a talk show-style format with many of the brightest names in ProRodeo and music. Each show will air on RideTV.
“It’s almost a pre-NFR show when it airs each afternoon,” Lucia said. “It will be aired right before the NFR starts, so people can watch Live with Lucia, then click over and watch the rodeo.
“Since 2009, it’s grown exponentially, and the popularity of it continues to grow. It’s funny, but I have contestants asking me all year, ‘If I make the NFR, can I be on your show?’ Because I’ve grown up in this business, I’ve been fortunate to have relationships and friendships with a lot of cowboys and cowgirls. I am forever indebted to my cowboy friends who have supported me.”
Within the hour-long show, Lucia’s hopes to showcase more about the contestants, highlighting them and their personalities.
“I still think it’s a necessary action that if you want to grow this sport, you have to humanize our rodeo heroes,” he said.
He’s done a brilliant job of that, both during his shows and as a rodeo announcer. He’ll include both aspects of that each evening as the host of the nightly NFR feed, beginning at 6 p.m. inside the Mizouya Lounge at Mandalay Bay for Cowboyville.
“It’s a great NFR feed, and I’m happy with how we do it,” Lucia said. “I have one of the greatest rodeo DJs that plays music during the rides and runs. We mix it like the audience is at the Thomas & Mack Center so they can get that feel with it. We play different games and have prizes and gifts for the audience.”
He was the first host of a night feed in 2010 at another resort, then moved to the Mandalay Bay a year later. By integrating music into the live feed, Lucia has been able to add a distinct flavor to what rodeo fans experience.
“I really enjoy doing it and having the opportunities I have when I’m in Las Vegas,” he said.
He should, because he’s earned every one.