ARLINGTON, Texas – 2018 World Champion Kaique Pacheco was sitting aboard County Jail in the bucking chutes at AT&T Stadium when he began to warm up his rosin.
The always stoic and focused Pacheco was actually not even sure if he was still eligible to win $2.1 million on Sunday afternoon at The American. He had bucked off Jive Turkey in the long round and had only made it back to the four-man Shootout Round via buckoff time (3.49 seconds).
The 27-year-old will often try to listen to the arena music as part of his chute procedure to block out any other distraction, but his concrete focus was cracked for a split second when he heard in-arena announcer Brandon Bates remind those in attendance Pacheco was about to ride for $2.1 million.
“Before I get on my bull, I did not know if I was eligible for $2 million yet,” Pacheco told PBR.com on Sunday night. “When I warmed up my rosin, I hear everything they started to say, and then I knew, but I just try to clean my mind like I do every time. I needed to do my job. I needed to ride my bull.”
No bull rider in the history of the sport had ever even attempted to ride for $2.1 million until Sunday afternoon. It should come as no surprise to anyone the Ice Man, as he is so fittingly nicknamed, would not flinch.
Pacheco took care of County Jail for a picturesque 89 points – letting out a celebratory yell as he walked off the dirt – to pass seven-time PRCA champion Sage Kimzey (88.5 points on Gladiator’s Hammer) for the event lead. Pacheco’s celebration was by no means one of a rider who was about to win $2.1 million. Rather, he calmly hung up his bull rope and looked on with anticipation to see how the rest of The Shootout Round would go.
Dener Barbosa, the only other bull rider who was a Contender for the $2.1 million bonus, would be bucked off by Juju, and reigning PRCA All-Around champion Stetson Wright would be no match for Chiseled, cementing Pacheco a record-setting $2.1 million payday.
The American offers an annual $1 million bonus to any Contender athlete who wins any of the eight rodeo disciplines. In 2021, no Contender was victorious, and the $1 million rolled over to 2022. Then on Sunday, it appeared that no Contender would win the combined $2.1 million until Pacheco broke through in the final event of the prestigious rodeo event.
“I can’t believe it,” Pacheco said. “I know everything the bull did with me. He is a great bull of Frontier Rodeo. I saw him at the World Finals, and Mauricio (Moreira) rode him for 92 points, and I had an opportunity to pick him and make a good ride, a good score. I am so glad. I can’t believe this.”
The first man to congratulate Pacheco was none other than three-time World Champion Silvano Alves, who pulled Pacheco’s bull rope on Sunday afternoon and has long been a mentor, friend, and father figure to Pacheco.
When Wright hit the dirt, Alves immediately grasped Pacheco into a long bear hug just beyond the rider walk-off gate.
“I love him like my son,” Alves said. “It is hard to explain. He is so humble. He tries hard every week. He can do anything. This is his time. He deserves this success. We didn’t even know he could still win the $2 million after he bucked off earlier.”
Mason Taylor looked on and smiled as Alves and Pacheco celebrated.
Pacheco had asked Taylor to give him a spot, and Taylor was right there with Alves cheering his lungs out as Pacheco made a flawless ride aboard County Jail.
“That is nuts,” Taylor said. “I am so happy for Kaique. That is awesome. He asked me to spot him, and I felt honored to spot him. I wish like hell it was me or Dalton (Kasel), but it was Kaique, and you are not going to freeze the ice man out.”
Twenty minutes later, Alves and his wife, Evelin, peered through an open doorway into the AT&T Stadium media room as Pacheco posed for photos with a fake chest of $2 million and humbly answered questions about his historic day.
“I know he has a house here, but maybe he will now buy a ranch here, too,” Evelin said with a smile towards her husband.
Evelin later explained what makes Pacheco so special beyond the athlete in the arena.
“It is his heart,” she said. “He is such a good person, and he deserves everything he has gotten. We are just so really happy for him. God blessed him today.”
Pacheco had a huge smile inside the media room as he tried to comprehend just how much money he had won. He had earned $3.5 million in his PBR career since arriving in the United States in 2015, and his career earnings have now rocketed to nearly $5.7 million.
“This is the most important event,” Pacheco said. “Big money. I can’t believe that. Before I come to the event, I did not think too much about the $2 million. If you think about that, it can bother you. You have to clean your mind and just make your job like I do all my life in the PBR. Right now, I am trying to think about what I am going to do with that big money and keep working on my bull riding.”
BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS & A CHAOTIC TURN OF EVENTS
When Pacheco won the 2018 PBR World Championship and $1.5 million four years ago, he had to be up at 8 a.m. on Championship Sunday at the PBR World Finals to receive therapy on his left knee as he was attempting to win his first gold buckle just days after tearing his PCL/MCL at the Velocity Tour Finals.
Pacheco was once again up early Sunday as he got up at 7 a.m. and prepared to leave the Hilton Arlington and make the 3-mile drive to AT&T Stadium. This time, he was fully healthy for a day he compared earlier in the week to riding for a world title, but the stakes were also very different.
Pacheco had earned a pathway to competing at The American by going a combined 3-for-3 during The American Semifinals and Contender rounds in the past week at Cowtown Coliseum. He also went 2-for-2 for a runner-up finish with Team Brazil at the 2022 PBR Global Cup USA, presented by Monster Energy, on Saturday night.
The plan was for Pacheco to stop at Starbucks Sunday morning and order his go-to drink – a Mango Dragonfruit Refresher – before heading to the home of the Dallas Cowboys. The drink, though, was unavailable, to his surprise. Therefore, Pacheco opted for a Strawberry Refresher to wash down some egg bites and banana bread to be his fuel to his fire.
It was a different experience for Wright, meanwhile, as the Utah cowboy woke up at 9:30 a.m. to a slew of missed calls and texts telling him to get his butt to AT&T Stadium, seeing as he was set to replace Ky Hamilton (lacerated liver) in the draw.
Wright had no time to eat breakfast, but he didn’t let that stop him from riding Top Shelf for 88.5 points to win the long round less than 24 hours after helping the Team USA Eagles win the Global Cup at AT&T Stadium.
The ending of the long round Sunday led to some confusion for Pacheco as he had figured he had blown his chances at winning the $2.1 million. He did not expect his 3.49-second buckoff against Jive Turkey to be good enough to earn him a spot in The Shootout Round.
Pacheco had taken off his chaps around 3 p.m. and was walking down the massive hallway inside the AT&T Stadium when staff members frantically tried to find him to tell him he had the longest buckoff time and to get to the front of house to make his draft pick for The Shootout Round.
The 2015 PBR Rookie of the Year’s eyes lit up. Pacheco did not even say a word and immediately bolted down the hallway, knowing he had another opportunity to at least win $100,000.
An hour-and-a-half later, Pacheco was once again poised like he always is.
He peered into the bucking chute to look at County Jail at 4:30 p.m. with Alves and Taylor flanking him. He said a quick prayer before climbing aboard his 2,000-pound partner and unknowingly got ready to prepare for the richest bull ride ever seen in the history of the sport.
“I just wanted to do my job,” Pacheco said when asked to compare his World Championship to his $2.1 million ride. “I don’t think about the money or winning a world title. If you think about those things, it can bother you. You have to keep your mind clean. I just try to make every bull I get on the same thing. I just clean my mind and don’t think about nothing. Just me and my bull, and that’s it.”
Kimzey (3.31 seconds on Full Throttle) was also a last-minute addition into The Shootout Round, the last rider in because Creek Young had to doctor out because of a dislocated elbow. Young had placed second in the long round with 88 points aboard War Cry. Dener Barbosa had advanced to The Shootout Round with his 79.5 points on Scary Larry.
Kimzey, the reigning PRCA bull riding champion, congratulated Pacheco on the back of the bucking chutes following his eventual winning ride in The Shootout Round: “Hell of a bull ride, cowboy.”
Following the event, Kimzey commended Pacheco on a history-making ride.
“Amazing!” Kimzey said. “What a milestone for Western sports. He is the second ever (at The American) to cash a check with two commas. That truly is life-changing in so many ways. I am happy for him.”
A BOY WHO PROMISED TO BE HIS OWN MAN
Pacheco grew up in Itatiba, Brazil, and the third-generation cowboy seemed destined to be a bull rider.
It was in his blood, you could say, and he quickly fell in love with the sport at 10 years old when he got on his first steer.
His father, Everaldo, gave him distinct advice when he was first getting started: “You’re either going to be one bull rider, or you’re going to stand out,” Everaldo said to Kaique. “You’re just going to be another rider, or you’re going to be your own man.’”
Kaique responded, “I will be my own man.”
Seventeen years later, that little boy has forged his own path with a PBR Rookie of the Year title (2015), a prestigious Barretos victory (2015), a PBR World Championship (2018), multiple event wins, and now the richest bull ride in history ($2.1 million).
It is pretty safe to say Pacheco stands among the greatest bull riders in history.
Two-time World Champion J.B. Mauney – the richest bull rider in history with more than $7 million in career earnings – remembers this kid from Brazil refusing to back down from him during his 2015 title season.
Mauney quickly realized Pacheco, who finished his rookie year second in the world standings, would have a long and successful career. Mauney was at home Sunday recovering from groin surgery, watching Pacheco make history to no surprise.
A chance at winning that much money was never going to rattle Pacheco, Mauney explained.
“They don’t call him the Ice Man for no reason,” Mauney said. “It’s badass for him, and tell him I want to borrow some money.”
2016 World Champion Cooper Davis went head-to-head against Pacheco in the 2016 world title race. He too spoke of Pacheco’s next-level ability to focus and block out all distractions, including $2 million.
“He has the ability to focus in big moments, and he doesn’t pay attention to anything except what he has to do,” Davis said. “It is what really makes him as tough to beat as anything. Just like Saturday night at the Global Cup. He got on his re-ride after there was no chance for Team Brazil to win, and he still goes and rides for 90-plus.”
Pacheco defeated reigning two-time World Champion Jose Vitor Leme in the 2018 world title race, and the two Brazilian standouts have been world title foes the last two years. Some would argue they are the two best bull riders in the PBR today.
Leme said Sunday was another example of why Pacheco deserves to be considered one of the best the sport has ever seen.
“I don’t think it’s news for anyone,” Leme said. “Everyone knows the capacity of Kaique, and he proved again he’s one of the greatest of all time. That was well-deserved for sure. I am happy for him.”
2008 World Champion Guilherme Marchi rodeoed with Pacheco’s father, and he promised Everaldo that he would help Pacheco adjust to the United States when he arrived in the U.S. at just 20 years old. Like Alves, Marchi became a father figure to Pacheco as the youngster evolved into a PBR superstar.
The now-retired PBR Ring of Honor inductee was in Brazil when his phone started buzzing nonstop as news traveled about Pacheco’s ride.
“It is amazing, this much money in one day,” Marchi said. “Good for him. This will help his confidence to make a run for a world title in the PBR, too. This amount of money will change any cowboy’s life. Only one day. $2.1 million. That is a lot of money for any rodeo cowboy. It is amazing how this sport is growing and how much money a cowboy can make in this sport. It is so amazing.”
Marchi and two-time World Champion Justin McBride are two of six bull riders along with Pacheco who have won $5 million or more in their careers.
McBride had a birds-eye view of Pacheco’s historic moment from the TV booth inside AT&T Stadium.
“Huge!” McBride said. “I am so proud of him and all the PBR guys. Global Cup was awesome, and then he capped it off today!”
On Sunday afternoon, PBR CEO Sean Gleason gave Pacheco his own bear hug after Pacheco was crowned the event winner on the 50-yard line. This was the moment he envisioned when Teton Ridge and the PBR partnered earlier this year to create the Great American weekend featuring the Global Cup and The American.
“I have had a lot of pinnacle moments in my career, but watching Kaique Pacheco ride a bull, five bulls over the week, and walk away with $2.1 million is amazing,” Gleason said. “I love it when our guys make money and I don’t have to sign the check. It is awesome. Such a great event, a great weekend. The American today, Global Cup last night.
“This is incredible. When I talked to Teton Ridge about the format once they bought it, they apologized and said, ‘Sorry your guys are going to have to be the qualifiers.’ I was like, ‘Are you serious? Are you joking?’ I said, ‘That is the best thing I ever heard because there are some great rodeo guys, Stetson and Sage, but our guys are at another level.’ I knew our bull riders were going to get a share of the bonus, but I didn’t know it was going to be the full $2.1 million. Unbelievable.”
Everaldo was in attendance at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas in 2018, and Pacheco had no idea if his father was even able to watch his historic bull ride live on Sunday afternoon.
Regardless, Kaique knows the little boy who was always aspiring to be like his dad would never have imagined he would win $2.1 million on one single bull ride.
“I grew up in this sport,” Pacheco said. “My daddy is a bull rider. My uncle was a bull rider, too. My grandfather is a stock contractor, and I love this sport. I followed my daddy at events, and I decided to ride bulls too, and to try hard and make my job better.”
Pacheco used portions of his $1.5 million earnings in 2018 to purchase a ranch in Brazil. He may now use his winnings from The American to upgrade from his house in Decatur, Texas, to an American ranch like Evelin Alves wondered.
“I bought a big ranch in Brazil after I won my world title, and maybe I will try to buy one here now,” Pacheco said, still in disbelief and with a grin. “I have just a house here in Decatur. Maybe I need to think about that.
“This is unbelievable. I don’t know.”
Article Courtesy of PBR
Photo By Andy Watson/ Bull Stock Media