Welfare Cowboys: The Truth about Rodeo's Addiction to Government Handouts
Self-manufactured rodeo lore would have you believe that rodeo folks are strong, independent, all-American types who rely on nothing but their own strength of character to succeed against all odds. Rodeo announcers will go on with the pitch and fervor of a religious zealot about how the rodeo contestant gets no support other than what he or she earns, and the difficulties rodeo people endure in maintaining Western tradition, culture and history. This hype is backed by propaganda in rodeo programs and on rodeo websites.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
The fact is that the very existence of the rodeo world is depends on societal handouts. Some of those handouts come in the form of corporate sponsorships and/or advertising dollars from companies such as Bank of the West, Dodge Trucks, Coca-Cola, Wrangler Jeans, Budweiser Beer, Super 8, etc. These companies want their brand names noticed, and they have very few standards to limit what depths they will sink to in order to accomplish that mission. The rodeo industry takes full advantage of this, and the marketing departments of rodeo associations in large part keep rodeos alive, including very poorly attended events, by maintaining a flow of cash from sponsors.