LAS VEGAS – Slowly but surely, steer wrestler Stephen Culling is making money at the National Finals Rodeo.
ProRodeo’s grand finale offers a purse of $100,000 per day, and it’s paid out to the top six places in descending order: Round winners earn the most, $30,706. Culling has been among the leaders four times in seven rounds.
Since he arrived in the City of Lights last week, the Fort St. John, British Columbia, cowboy has pocketed $43,678. Half of that came from his 4.3-second run Sunday, which resulted in a tie for second place, worth $21,296. In his other three rounds, he’s finished in sixth or a tie for sixth.
Culling did that again in Wednesday’s seventh round, stopping the clock in 4.5 seconds. He added another $4,953 payday to his annual earnings, which are just shy of $150,000.
He was raised in northeastern British Columbia and got involved in rodeo early. After receiving a little tutelage in steer wrestling, he took to it. In 2010, he won both the Canadian High School Finals Rodeo and the National High School Finals Rodeo, which catapulted him into his college career.
Culling attended both Western Oklahoma State College and Northwestern Oklahoma State University on rodeo scholarships. He was the 2016 Resistol Rookie of the Year, but this is his inaugural trip to the NFR.
He earned the right by finishing 10th in the world standings at the conclusion of the regular season. Through seven rounds, he’s added to his pocketbook but remains in the same spot on the money list. He has a few aces up his sleeve as he battles in Las Vegas. First and foremost, he’s riding Eddie, a bulldogging mount owned by fellow Canadian Tanner Milan that was named the PRCA Steer Wrestling Horse of the Year.
He’s also sixth in the aggregate race, having knocked down seven steers in a cumulative time of 40.1 seconds. Should he hold onto that spot, he’ll add a bonus of $19,315 for placing in the average. He has three more nights to cash in before the season comes to an end.
He’ll take every opportunity he can to make that happen.