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Neal Gay



Year Inducted: 2009

Gay, Neal

Gay, Neal 300 300 Seth "from Marketing"

Ben Johnson Memorial Award

Born in 1926 in Dallas, Texas, Neal Gay started riding broncs and bulls as a teenager. Following service in World War II, he won a bull-riding event at Atoka, Oklahoma, in 1945 and joined the Rodeo Cowboys Association then and there. Over the next decade he established himself among the top 10 in saddle-bronc-riding competition.

Upon starting a family, Neal Gay sought a way to perpetuate rodeo sport from outside the arena. With early partners like Jim Shoulders, “Kajun Kid” Gaudin, Harry Tompkins and Ira Akers, he founded the Mesquite Championship Rodeo near Dallas in 1958. Today the nation’s longest running weekly venue, the Mesquite Rodeo has entertained millions of fans for 50 years, and, since the 1980s, it has been viewed by millions more on ESPN, TNN and Fox Sports.

Through the Mesquite Championship Rodeo, Neal Gay has made millions of television viewers into ardent rodeo fans. He also trained many aspiring contestants at rodeo clinics over the years, and for more than a decade, produced the M.S. Rodeo at Mesquite, which has raised millions of dollars to fight muscular dystrophy. For his many contributions to rodeo sport and the larger society, Neal Gay was awarded the 2009 Ben Johnson Memorial Award from the Rodeo Historical Society.

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