With the rise of the Cowboys’ Turtle Association following the 1936 Boston Garden strike, rodeo contestants finally had representation in the sport. With the CTA came fair prize money, equality in judging, and honest advertising. In 1945, CTA rebranded as the Rodeo Cowboys Association, and in 1974, it became known as the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association.
From humble beginnings, the PRCA has grown into the largest and most prestigious sanctioning body in the history of rodeo. The organization is made up of more than 7,000 members, roughly half of which are participating contestants. Of these contestants, 192 have surpassed the million-dollar mark in career prize money, and 32 have surpassed two million.
While the PRCA has been good to its cowboys, it has been a boon to rodeo communities as well. Most PRCA sanctioned rodeos are produced by local volunteer committees who donate proceeds to worthy causes. Each year, PRCA rodeos donate over $25 million to charity.
Exemplifying the Western lifestyle, PRCA rodeos see an estimated 23 million spectators annually—in person. Another 40 million viewers tune into the Wrangler Pro Rodeo Tour on cable. The National Finals Rodeo—the “super bowl of rodeo”— is even televised on ESPN, proof of rodeo’s legitimacy and growing popularity as a sport.