67°F
weather icon Mostly Cloudy

Veteran bull Bushwacker retiring after PBR World Finals

M ore tickets are sold. TV ratings are up. And he’s on T-shirts and coffee mugs, appeared in ESPN The Magazine Body Issue and has his own action figure and Fathead.

Bushwacker, the baddest, most muscular bucking bull in the bull-riding sport, has meant big dollars to his owner, Julio Moreno, and the Professional Bull Riders Inc.

Eight-year-old Bushwacker, 1,750 pounds of brawn and athleticism, is retiring this year, and this week’s 2014 World Finals at the Thomas &Mack Center is the bull’s swan song.

“He’s opened doors for the bulls,” Moreno said Monday morning as he watched his prized bovine relax in an indoor ring at South Point’s Priefert Pavilion. “PBR has put him out there, and they’re marketing him good … He’s a fan favorite. He’s more of a favorite than the cowboys. He’s put PBR on the map.”

Moreno places Bushwacker’s value at $2 million and said he turned down an $800,000 offer a few years ago.

Ticket sales are expected to jump 10 percent at the World Finals because of Bushwacker’s last appearance on the bull-riding circuit, said Jim Haworth, chairman and CEO of Pueblo, Colo.-based Professional Bull Riders.

“Bushwacker has been a rock star and has given us an opportunity to sell merchandise and tickets,” Haworth said. “He’s been on every national TV broadcast.”

Haworth noted TV ratings of PBR events with Bushwacker as the drawing card are up 20 percent this year and that T-shirt sales have increased 40 percent thanks to the star bull.

“He’s probably the most popular athlete we’ve had in the PBR,” said Flint Rasmussen, a veteran PBR entertainer. “We introduce him as a celebrity and people stand up and go crazy.”

Added Rasmussen’s friend, Shorty Gorham, a PBR bullfighter: “I know people who ordinarily wouldn’t go to a bull riding event buy a ticket because it’s Bushwacker’s final year.”

Just because Bushwacker is retiring at the World Finals and drawing Derek Jeter-like treatment at his final appearances, it doesn’t mean the powerful bull won’t be earning his keep when he soaks up life in the pastures of Moreno’s ranch in Oakdale, Calif.

Bushwacker’s semen will be likely worth $5,000 per unit as his job morphs from arena performer to calf maker, Moreno said.

“He’ll have 21 girlfriends and all the pastures, hay and grain he wants,” Moreno said.

Moreno said Bushwacker is at the peak of his athleticism and could perform for another three to four years. Bushwacker is in such good health that Moreno said he could live until 15 or 16 — or even longer — because of retirement at age 8.

Bushwacker makes money for Moreno in other ways, too. Moreno expects a Bushwacker calf to sell for $50,000 to $100,000 on Saturday and his nieces and nephews to sell for about $40,000 each.

That’s not counting the $600,000 in earnings Bushwacker has piled up since he began bucking cowboys as a 2-year-old, Moreno said, adding he has a $100,000 insurance policy on the bull.

Bushwacker is drawing special treatment and protection at South Point, where two security guards and 24/7 video surveillance watch over the superstar bull. He hangs out in his 12-by-12-foot outdoor pen next to his half-siblings, Mr. Bull and Roy.

Bushwacker is among more than 400 PBR bulls being housed at South Point. They are transferred via trailer to Thomas &Mack for the nightly competition.

Bushwacker makes his first appearance this week at Thomas &Mack on Thursday, and his finale is Sunday.

“When he was 3 years old, I knew he had what it took,” Moreno said. “He did whatever it took to get that cowboy off his back.”

Contact reporter Alan Snel at asnel@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5273. Find him on Twitter: @BicycleManSnel

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Business Videos
How much do Las Vegas casino CEOs make?
Las Vegas gaming CEOs made anywhere between $1 million and $24 million last year, according to company filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. ((Las Vegas Review-Journal)
30-year-old Rio needs a little TLC
Nearly 30 years after the Rio opened, the red and blue jewel that helped catapult Las Vegas to a new level with its buffet and nightclub has lost its status along with its shine.
The latest on the Drew Las Vegas - VIDEO
Eli Segall recounts his tour of the Drew Las Vegas, formerly the Fontainebleau, on the Las Vegas Strip. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pinball Hall of Fame to move near south Strip
Operators of the Pinball Hall of Fame have been approved to build a new, larger arcade near the south edge of the Strip on Las Vegas Boulevard near Russel Road. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
National Hardware Show underway Las Vegas
The National Hardware Show kicked off Tuesday at the Las Vegas Convention Center (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Caesars for sale?
Caesars Entertainment Corp. has been swept up in takeover speculation since the company’s share price tumbled last year amid disappointing earnings and concerns over a recession. Amid the decline, hedge funds scooped up shares. Billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn began buying shares of Caesars as early as January. Icahn acquired nearly 18 percent by mid-March. In February Icahn called on the Caesars board to study a sale as a way to boost shareholder value.
Las Vegas home prices
Las Vegas home prices grew fastest among major markets in February for the ninth straight month. But amid affordability concerns, the growth rate has slowed down. Southern Nevada prices in February were up 9.7% from a year earlier, according to the latest S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller index. The last time Las Vegas' price growth fell below 10% was in September 2017, S&P Dow Jones Indices reported.
Free Parking Coming To Wynn
Free parking will come to the Wynn and Encore resorts on May 1, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Founding Venetian employees talk about 20 years at the Strip resort
The Venetian, which opened May 3, 1999, is celebrating 20 years on the Las Vegas Strip. Seven original employees talk about opening the luxury resort and working there for two decades. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Circa aiming for December 2020 opening
The 1.25-million-square-foot property will have 44-stories and 777-rooms. It will also have a separate nine-story, 1,201-space parking garage.
Boxabl official explains the building concept
Boxabl business development manager Galiano Tiramani shows off a room built by his company. (Blake Apgar/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TI/Mirage Tram reopens
The tram that shuttles guests between TI and Mirage reopened this week after being closed for much of 2018.
Las Vegas Convention Center expansion taking shape
Renderings and actual footage show how the Las Vegas Convention Center is evolving.
Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz at Las Vegas convention
Former Starbucks CEO and potential presidential candidate Howard Schultz spoke at the Epicor Insights user conference at Mandalay Bay Convention Center Wednesday, April 17, 2019. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Drew Las Vegas to open in the second quarter of 2022
The 67-story Drew Las Vegas is slated to open in the second quarter of 2022 at the north end of the Las Vegas Strip. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
NAB Day 1 (Time Lapse)
NAB kicked off at the Las Vegas Convention Center on Monday, April 8, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
National Association of Broadcasters Show shows 1mm thick 8K TV with 22.2 channel digital sound
Japan’s NHK Science & Technology Research Laboratories booth featured a 1mm thick 8K TV system used in conjunction with a 22.2 channel digital sound system at the National Association of Broadcasters Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Nevada shoppers react to Smith’s no longer accepting Visa credit cards
On March 1, Smith’s announced that it would no longer be accepting Visa credit cards at any of its 142 supermarkets, including the 45 in Nevada.
Massachusetts Gaming Commission asks how long Wynn executives knew about misconduct
Business reporter Rick Velotta gives an update on the adjudicatory hearing on the suitability of Wynn Resorts to retain its gaming license in Massachusetts.
Henderson app developer part of Startup in Residence
Henderson based developers of the app On Point Barricade are taking part in Startup in Residence, a North America program dedicated to pairing tech companies with governments. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Sam's Town employees and customers talk of their love for the iconic casino
Longtime Sam's Town employees and customers love each other and love their casino. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Las Vegas apartments rents
Las Vegas’ apartment market has accelerated in recent years. Developers are packing the suburbs with projects, landlords are on a buying spree, and tenants have filled buildings.
William Boyd talks about the birth of Sam's Town
On the eve of the 40th anniversary of Sam's Town, William Boyd, executive chairman of Boyd Gaming and son of hotel namesake Sam Boyd, talks about how the casino became one of the first local properties in Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
High Roller observation wheel turns five
The world’s tallest observation wheel celebrates it’s fifth year on Sunday, March 31, 2019. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Vegas88s
Escape Room Industry Growing In Las Vegas
Escapology employees discuss the growing escape room industry in the U.S. and Las Vegas. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Impact of parking fees on visiting the Las Vegas Strip
There are no data showing a relationship between Strip resort and parking fees and the number of out-of-state visitors to Las Vegas. But there are data showing a relationship between Strip parking fees and the number of local visitors to the the Strip. ‘’As a local, I find myself picking hotels I visit for dinner or entertainment, based on whether they charge for parking or not,”’ said David Perisset, the owner of Exotics Racing. ‘’It is not a matter of money, more of principle.’’ A 2018 survey by the Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance found 36.9 percent of Clark County residents reported avoiding parking at Strip casinos that charge for parking. 29.1 percent reported avoiding using any services from a Strip casino that charges for parking.
MGM's sports betting deals
MGM Resorts International signed a sports betting sponsorship agreement with the NBA in July It was the first professional sports league to have official ties with a legal sports betting house. The deal came just two months after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a law prohibiting sports betting in most states. In October, MGM became the first gaming company to sign a sports betting partnership with the NHL. In November, MGM became the first gaming company to sign a sports betting partnership with the MLB. Financial terms of Tuesday’s deal and earlier partnerships have not been announced.
Faraday puts Las Vegas land on the market
Nearly two years after Faraday Future bailed on its North Las Vegas auto factory, the company has put its land up for sale. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
El Cortez owner Kenny Epstein on running the iconic property
Kenny Epstein, owner of the El Cortez Hotel in downtown Las Vegas, talks about Jackie Gaughan mentorship and answers rumors about bodies in the basement at the mob-era casino. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
LVCVA recommends construction of underground people mover
The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority announced the recommendation for an underground people mover for the convention center. The system would have the potential to expand and connect Downtown and the resort corridor all the way to McCarran. (Michael Quine/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
THE LATEST
 
Plenty of work remains on Drew Las Vegas

The former Fontainebleau — the blue-tinted tower that has blighted the Strip for a decade — is slated to open as the Drew in the second quarter of 2022.