LAS VEGAS – Every bull that Jordan Spears rides means more money at the National Finals Rodeo.
Sure, he’s placed in four of nine rounds, earning $47,231 in the process, but there’s more to it. After Wednesday’s seventh go-round, he sat fifth in the NFR average race. As of Friday night, he is third. The difference in average payout for having one of the best cumulative scores after 10 rounds is more than $20,000.
Only three cowboys can move him down, because Stetson Wright, Tyler Bingham and Koby Radley have ridden five bulls. If any of them rides for enough points Saturday and Spears doesn’t, then he’ll move down accordingly. Alas, if he covers his final bull for the qualifying eight seconds, Spears will add $43,154 to his NFR earnings.
It’s worth noting that he is guaranteed at least a piece of the average pie whether he rides Saturday night or not; he won’t move further down than sixth in the aggregate race, which pays $16,500.
“The game plan is to ride every single one,” said Spears of Redding, California, now living in Caldwell, Idaho. “I made a couple mistakes earlier in the week, but I’ve been fixing mistakes, doing my job and stays on my bulls. I’m just slowly winning a little bit each time, but I’m staying up there in that average.”
On Friday night, he rode Corey & Lange Rodeo’s Short Bus for 85 points to finish sixth in the ninth round. That was worth another $4,231 and pushed his season total to $168,779.
“I’ve been on that bull before, so I knew what he was going to do,” he said. “He’s a smart bull; you start to get one way or the other, and he will switch it up. He just wants you on the ground. I knew I had to stay square and not make any big moves, just ride him jump for jump. He was feeling free the whole time, and luckily it worked out.”
He is quietly having the best NFR of his four qualifications. He’s ridden more bulls than any of his three previous trips to the Nevada desert, and he stands to finish the best season of his young career.
“The name of the game is consistency,” Jordan said. “You do your job, and eventually it will pay off. I may not be winning the big checks, but I’m getting there. Staying strong in the average was a goal here. I wanted to come here and have a strong outing, ride all 10. That didn’t work out, but I’m doing my best to ride as many as I can.
“I just want to take advantage of every opportunity.”