Jose Vitor Leme is arguably the greatest bull rider in the 29-year history of the PBR.
He is the reigning two-time PBR World Champion and in doing so, he rewrote a litany of all-time records last season in 2021.
From the two highest-marked rides ever — 97.75 points followed by 98.75 points on Woopaa in the final round of the World Finals, which was also the first perfect 50 rider points — to most round wins in a single-season (21), most 90-point rides in a season (24) and tied the record for most event wins in a season (8). Having missed eight elite, televised events last season, he won 40 percent of the events he entered—a staggering accomplishment.
With a third straight world title — a feat that has never been accomplished by any of the greats who preceded him in the past three decades — and there would be no argument regarding the greatest bull rider in PBR history.
Leme has previously said “all the world titles (are) different.”
So too would a third.
He will arrive, in Fort Worth, Texas, for his sixth Finals appearance ranked fourth in the PBR world standings.
Just this week, Leme, who is known for sharing scripture on his Instagram account, simply wrote: “Believe in yourself.”
If the past has taught the rest of us anything, Leme has had no issues with the self-confidence to succeed and achieve his goals.
In relatively short order, the Ribas do Rio Pardo, Brazil native, who now makes his home in Decatur, Texas, has become one of the most celebrated bull riders in the sport of professional bull riding—even predating the PBR.
In addition to last year’s single-season accomplishments and his two gold buckles — both of which include a $1 million bonus for becoming the World Champion — Leme is a five-time Global Cup team Brazil qualifier (2017-2022), two-time Global winner (2018, 2019), two-time World Finals event-winner (2017, 2021), three-time Lane Frost / Brent Thurman award-winner (2017, 2020, 2021), two-time Mason Lowe award-winner (2020, 2021), Tour Pro Division winner (2020), Velocity Tour and Velocity Finals winner (2019), PBR Rookie of the Year (2017) and the 2017 PBR Brazil Champion.
Not bad for a kid who abandoned his interest in calf riding following his parents’ divorce when he became more interested in soccer and karate.
Like many young Brazilians, Leme pursued soccer for 11 years, including playing the game at the semi-pro level.
A decade removed from riding calves and steers, Leme was 18 years old when he rode his first full-sized bucking bull. Seven years later, the 25-year-old will not turn 26 until August 15, he is on the verge of making history.
Leme will be competing alongside a trio of fellow Monster Energy teammates at the World Finals including Derek Kolbaba, Cody Teel, and Marco Eguchi. The opening three rounds will take place Friday, Saturday, and Sunday and then resume for a second weekend of competition beginning Thursday, May 19 and conclude on Sunday, May 22.