The contestants in the Finals had been to an awful lot of rodeos in the past year—since the standings are based on money won, the more rodeos you can make, the more pudding you can dig at—and they had seen some astounding changes in the things that attend the performance, if not in the unchanging act of rodeo itself. A while back, if somebody had made a joke about the President of the United States at a rodeo, they would have sent his head to Tulsa. At the Finals the rodeo clowns and announcer Clem McSpadden, an Oklahoma congressman (and not coincidentally a Democrat), got together for a joke about finding Nixon a job on television. "He could be on The Price Is Right, Let's Make a Deal, I've Got a Secret and What's My Line?" was the way the joke went. Fathers and sons, indeed.
There were no easily recognizable advertisements in Oklahoma City for the National Finals—as opposed to, for example, Frontier Days in Cheyenne—and when McSpadden called for regional identification cries from the audience, there were as many yells for Texas and Canada as there were for Oklahoma.
Well, four of the top live bull riders—the Gays, Steiner and Mahan—going into the end were from Texas, the first time that ever happened, and one—Shoulders—was from Oklahoma. By Sunday afternoon all of them felt like they had been rode hard and put up wet. Mahan, for example, was up on 30 bucking horses and bulls in this one rodeo.
The Sunday bulls were the toughest of an exceptional lot. Marvin Paul Shoulders was finally thrown. A bull named Mr. Bubble dumped Don Gay in the dirt, making Bobby Steiner the 1973 champion. Steiner flung his hat in the air, hugged Gay and then rode his last bull to wind up an outstanding season in rodeo's most exciting event.