PRESS RELEASE / ANNOUNCEMENTS Sunday, December 16, 2012

Friends Rise to New Levels in Steer Wrestling at Wrangler National Finals Rodeo

LAS VEGAS, Dec. 15, 2012 --- Luke Branquinho entered potential Hall-of-Fame status in professional rodeo Saturday night when he won his fourth world championship in steer wrestling at the 10-day, $6 million Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.

Branquinho, 32, is the first to win back-to-back world titles in steer wrestling since Ote Berry in 1990-91. In fact, only one man has won more gold buckles in steer wrestling. That was Homer Pettigrew in the 1940’s who won six.

Branquinho’s stiffest challenge on Saturday night came from Wyoming’s Les Shepperson, who had a chance to beat him if Branquinho faltered. Yet, Shepperson not only loaned Branquinho his horse for the final two rounds, but also hazed for his traveling partner on the final night.

Shepperson had a total time of 48.6 seconds on ten runs and earned $80,047 in the Thomas and Mack Arena over four days. He came into the competition in 11th place and moved all the way up to third.

Struggles early in the season saw Branquinho struggling to be among the top 15 in the world that qualify here, but success this fall led him to a fifth place spot in the world standings. He added $73,618 to his regular season earnings for a total of $158,962 to get the gold buckle signifying he is the world’s best.

He sealed the deal with a 4.2-second run in front of 17,867 fans, which tied for fifth and sixth. Branquinho is now joining steer wrestling legends in the rodeo record books.

“You hear that stuff coming up before you even get in that situation,” Branquinho said. “It’s great. You just don’t think about it. You just go out and try to win as much money as you can. Now to be able to say that, I’m in that elite group. It’s an honor. Four is just unbelievable.”

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