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Jess Lockwood on riding bulls at Madison Square Garden

We talked to the hottest cowboy on the Professional Bull Riders circuit, kicking off its 25th season at Madison Square Garden in January 2018.
Riding bulls at the Garden
PBR champion Jess Lockwood. Photo credit: Rise & Shine OKC

Cowboys wrangling livestock probably isn’t the first thing you think of when you envision the bustling streets of New York City.

It only happens once a year during PBR: Professional Bull Riders, kicking off their national tour at Madison Square Garden for three straight nights, Jan. 5-7.

Their 25th anniversary season means the three-day dust-raising extravaganza will be more intense than ever. The top 35 riders in the league will be competing for the chance to ride their way to a share of a $140,000 purse. With such high stakes, it’s safe to say they will be leaving it all on the line in front of a packed Garden. 

At the top of the bull-riding leaderboard is current PBR champion Jess Lockwood, who at the age of 20 is the youngest person to ever to take home the coveted World Championship belt buckle and $1 million bonus.

A bull-riding prodigy in the same way that you could say LeBron was in basketball, Lockwood had his eyes set on being the best in the sport as far back as he could remember. “Ever since I was 2 years old, bull riding is what I have wanted to do,” Lockwood recalls. “There was no plan B.”

Millions of people tune in every year to this electrifying sport, and there’s a good chance the Garden will be packed with diehard fans ready for some action. Lockwood can see why the fans are so drawn to this sport: There’s just simply nothing else like the unbridled adrenaline rush of seeing someone putting their life at risk while riding one of the world’s strongest animals.

“Not everyone can do it,” says Lockwood, “Your adrenaline just gets pumping so much in the eight seconds you’re riding that bull.” 

Madison Square Garden will be your only chance to see the bull riders in action on the East Coast, with tickets starting at just $28. After New York, the 2018 PBR tour will be making stops through Chicago, Anaheim, Dallas, Kansas City, St. Louis and Sacramento. The PBR World Finals will then be held in Las Vegas, where they will crown the 2018 PBR World Champion.