Luke Branquinho was born on September 17, 1980 in Santa Maria, California. Luke has been involved in the rodeo world practically his entire life, growing up on a ranch and entering junior rodeos as soon as he was big enough to toss a rope. His parents John and Brandy have both had their fair share of time in the arena, as have his brothers Casey and Tony. Luke made his first big splash in high school, dominating the steer wrestling competition and taking home the California state championship in 1996. Two years later, he expanded his winning streak, earning the team roping, steer wrestling and all-around titles in the same year. Luke's career was briefly sidelined when he was diagnosed as a Type II diabetic at the age of 18, but his determination to enjoy the sport he loves put him back on track. Luke moved up from the amateur ranks in 2000, earning enough to grant him access to professional competition. Like most other serious rodeo competitors, Luke's main goal has always been to make it to the National Finals Rodeo. When asked about his aspirations, Luke stated, "When I first started, my first goal was to make the NFR. After I did that, I knew that winning a world championship was attainable and, luckily, it has been."
A Career on Fire
While Luke's amateur career is impressive in its own right, his professional career far eclipses it. Luke literally jumped out of the chute in 2001, winning the Tri-State Rodeo in Fort Madison, Iowa, the State Fair of Oklahoma, and the Calgary Stampede, one of the largest and most prestigious rodeos in the world. This success continued into 2002, with wins at the Sisters Rodeo in Oregon, the Snake River Stampede in Idaho and Puyallup Fair and Rodeo in Washington. 2003 saw Luke on his way to the National Finals Rodeo, where he tied for first place in the 5th round with an impressive time of 3.6 seconds. Luke's first World Championship came in 2004, with wins in rounds 2, 4, and 5. He set the regular season earnings record in steer wrestling with more than $125,000 before the NFR, and pocketing nearly $200,000 by the end of the 10-day event. Luke's successes were put on the back burner thanks to a torn pectoral muscle that required surgery in 2005, but 2006 saw a resurgence as he ended the season second in the world. He finished third in the world in 2007, but 2008 was another banner year as Luke took home his second steer wrestling World Championship. 2009 and 2010 were a little on the slow side for Luke, but he came back with a vengeance in 2011 and 2012, winning back-to-back world titles.
Into the Future
What does the future hold for a cowboy as successful as Luke? More rodeos, of course! Luke met his wife, Lindsay at a rodeo in 2003, so it really is a family affair. Luke's entire family joined him on the red carpet for the 2012 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo awards banquet, and they look forward to many more gold buckles. Their two children, 3-year-old Cade and 1-year-old baby Jameson are still a little young for the arena, but with the entire family wrapped up in the sport of rodeo, the tradition is sure to continue.