Donald ("Don" or "Donnie") Gay (Born September 18, 1953) is an American eight-time Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) world champion bull rider. His father, Neal Gay, was a well-known rodeo competitor and rodeo producer. Don was inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame in 1979; his father was inducted in 1993, becoming the only father and son to receive that honor. In 2015, Don was inducted into the Bull Riding Hall of Fame. Don retired from professional rodeo in 1989.
Don Gay was born on September 18, 1953, in Mesquite, Texas, to Neal Gay and Evelyn "Cookie" Foster. He was only a year old when his mother died of leukemia. Neal then married Kay Gay, who raised Don and his brother Pete as her own. Don grew up in Mesquite, Texas, and started rodeo at age six. His father ran the Mesquite Rodeo, which still operates today. He used Mesquite to perfect his skills on both bulls and broncs.
Gay got his PRCA permit shortly after graduating from high school and began traveling the rodeo circuit. He soon got his pilot's license and began flying himself to rodeo events in a private plane. Don Gay won almost every major rodeo in the country at some point during his career. He won the first of eight world titles in 1974. He went on to win in 1975, 1976, and 1977. His next four titles came in 1979, 1980, 1981, and 1984. The record of eight world titles in bull riding still stands. Don retired from professional rodeo in 1989.
After rodeo career
Since 2002, Gay has been the general manager of Frontier Rodeo Company, providing livestock to professional rodeos and bull riding events across the United States. He also does live announcing at a number of them. He has also done commentary for televised rodeo and bull-riding events. From the 1980s to 2000s, Gay was a commentator for the Mesquite Championship Rodeo when the weekly event was televised. He also provided commentary for Professional Bull Riders big-league events on TNN from 1993 to 2001, PRCA Xtreme Bulls big-league events on ESPN from 2003 to 2010, and Great American Country (GAC) from 2011 to 2013, Toughest Cowboy on Fox Sports Networks (FSN) from 2007 to 2008, and Championship Bull Riding big-league events on GAC from 2009 to 2010. From 2003 to 2017 and 2020, Gay also provided commentary for the bull riding during the live telecasts of the National Finals Rodeo each December, and in 2018, he provided commentary for the Tuff Hedeman Bull Riding Tour (TBHRT) on The Cowboy Channel. Starting in 2011, he began running his own semi-professional bull riding organization, the Don Gay Bull Riding Tour, which sanctioned events in some southern U.S. states. In 2016, this organization was renamed the Rank Bull Rider Tour. After its 2017 finals event, the Rank Bull Rider Tour became defunct.
Don was inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame in 1979; his father was inducted in 1993, becoming the only father and son to receive that honor. In 1997, he received the PBR Heroes and Legends Celebration: Ring of Honor. In 2015, Don was inducted into the Bull Riding Hall of Fame. In 2007 Gay was inducted into the Texas Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame along with his brothers Pete and Jim. In 2006, the ProRodeo Hall of Fame created the Legends of ProRodeo award which is awarded annually. Again, Don and his father are the only two son and father combo to receive this award. Don received it in 2013, and Neal received in 2016. The award is given to individuals who have retired from participating in the sport of rodeo but have tirelessly continued to contribute to the sport afterwards.
- 1996 Texas Sports Hall of Fame
- 1979 ProRodeo Hall of Fame
- 1997 PBR Heroes and Legends Celebration: Ring of Honor
- Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame
- 2007 Texas Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame
- 2008 Rodeo Hall of Fame of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum
- 2013 Legends of ProRodeo
- 2015 Molalla Walk of Fame
- 2015 Bull Riding Hall of Fame