Donnie Gay won eight bull riding world championships in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys’ Association: 1974-77, 1979-81 and 1984. A native of Mesquite, Texas, Gay is now general manager of the Frontier Rodeo Co. and a bull riding analyst on PRCA telecasts for Fox Sports and ESPN. He was inducted into the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame in 1979. Earlier this month, Gay joined the Rodeo Hall of Fame of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. From the sixth grade until about three years ago, I lived within a mile of the Mesquite Rodeo Arena. My father, Neal Gay, started the Mesquite Rodeo in 1958. It really is a little rodeo based on prize money as far as the cowboys are concerned. But the uniqueness of the Mesquite Rodeo is it ran every Friday and Saturday night, April through September, rain or shine. I got out of high school and started rodeoing. The last real work I did was cleaning barns, digging postholes, building fence and gathering stock for my daddy and making passing grades, or I would get my butt kicked. When I graduated I gave him that diploma and I went rodeoing. The first rodeo I went to after I walked across the stage and got my diploma, I got in a car with five other boys and we drove from Dallas, Texas, to Du Quoin, Ill. It was an outdoor fair on a Sunday afternoon and it was raining straight down. I won the saddle bronc riding and the bull riding. Won $422 and 10 cents. I called my daddy and told him I would see him in Oklahoma City (for the National Finals Rodeo) in December. My dad, I’m sure he was proud of me for being in the rodeo and doing well. But I think he would have been equally as proud if I had been a plumber, as long as he felt like I was doing something I wanted to do and was putting out 100 percent. That’s a big deal in the way I was raised. I knew from the time I was 5 years old I wanted to be the world champion bull rider. Jim Shoulders was my dad’s partner in the rodeo, was a 16-time world champion, seven of those were bull riding. It was the most exciting event to watch. The bull riders have packed the rodeos for a long time. It doesn’t diminish any of the timed events. I team rope a little bit. But the timed events are a lot like sex. If you ain’t involved, it ain’t a lot of fun. Neal Gay and Jim Shoulders shaped (my life), laid the foundation. Larry Mahan, just by watching what he was doing, gave me the direction I wanted to go. I wanted to rodeo and go to as many as I could. I wanted to learn to fly an airplane and be my own pilot and be good with the press, be good on television, because I knew I couldn’t ride bulls forever. A bull rider better be able to deal with pain. Because you are going to get hurt. The question is not if, it’s when you get hurt and how bad. I tell everybody I never wore a vest or helmet, because I spend most of my time on top of ’em instead of underneath ’em. That’s a real cruel way to say that to guys that have suffered serious injury. I’ve had broken ribs, torn groin muscles, broke fingers, dislocated elbows, tore-up knees, but I’ve never been confined to bed, so I never felt like I was hurt. I am a cowboy and I wear a cowboy hat. I think that a lot of boys who start out wearing helmets and vests, I see them not getting out of harm’s way quick enough. I see them relying on technology to get them out of a storm. That’s not good enough. Riding Red One in 1976 (was my most memorable ride). It was the highest score (95) for many years at the National Finals. I had to be over 90 points to win first in the go round and first in the average. Back in 1976 that didn’t happen very often. With the breeding programs, there are so many good bulls now. You don’t have to do what Tuff (Hedeman) and I had to do and go to 160 rodeos to get 80 opportunities at first place money. A lot of people like my announcing style and some people don’t. But even the ones that don’t usually watch because they like bull riding and they would love for me to make some kind of mistake. I am going to do television as long as anyone will listen to me. I call it like it is. They haven’t fired me many times. The PBR did but that’s because they take themselves too seriously.