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YOUNGEST MILLIONAIRE PADS TOTAL

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Ty Murray busied himself gently putting the bucking halter and saddle on a horse named Cisco, paying little attention to the commotion around him in the Delta Center Monday night.

Until he noticed the antics of the JumboTron's camera crew, which was using its special lenses to make two-headed monsters out of some unfortunate souls in the crowd. Murray smiled and watched for a minute, then went back to work, getting ready to ride.The 23-year-old Murray is pro rodeo's equivalent to another No. 23, Michael Jordan. He is simply the best in his sport, the PRCA's youngest-ever winner of more than $1 million by about seven years.

Murray is unfailingly polite and available for autographs. But he's all business, too, when the time comes, concentrating on the task at hand.

"I try to win it every time I come out," he said after placing second for the night's action in saddlebronc riding on Cisco. "I don't try to hang in there for the average."

Murray and the crowd thought he'd won the night's first event, bareback riding, with a 75. He was announced as the winner and took the official victory lap, but judges' scores later showed that Cody Lee of Tucson had marked a 77, rather than the 74 that was announced, and that Lee now leads all bareback riders through the first three rodeo performances.

The Days of '47 Rodeo continues nightly at the Delta Center through Saturday.

"I think the fans expect something every time I come out of the chute," said Murray, noting that public-address announcers always inform the crowds that he's a four-time world all-around champion who's been a household name in rodeo circles since he was national high school all-around champion and turned pro in 1987. "I don't know what people are thinking, but I'm pretty sure they have high expectations.

"I don't worry about it too much," he adds. He wants to win regardless and wants to go into cattle ranching when his days as a rare three-bucking-event cowboy are done.

Murray reached the $1 million mark in career earnings by winning money at five different rodeos over the July 4 weekend. Only six other cowboys have made $1 million in their careers, and they all reached the mark when they were in their 30s.

It doesn't mean there's $1 million sitting in the bank in Murray's home of Stephenville, Texas. It costs him $50,000-60,000 a year for traveling expenses and entry fees.

"It's like Lewis Feild says," said Murray, quoting the three-time PRCA all-around champion from Utah, a fellow career millionaire: "It's about 20 cents a mile."

Murray is, however, having his best year, having won about double what his closest all-around competitor has totaled so far. "I'm just having some luck," he says.

He should make some $250,000 this season; he is about $20,000 ahead of his pace of last year, when he totaled $225,992. In 1991, Murray set the PRCA single-season earnings record of $258,750.

Murray is only the third cowboy to ever qualify for the National Finals Rodeo in all three roughstock events - bareback, saddlebronc and bull riding. He has yet, however, to win a world championship in any single event. He ranks No. 1 in bull riding earnings and is scheduled for a bull ride in the Days of '47 Rodeo Wednesday.

Monday's winners also included Texans Carter Edmondson and Joe Beaver in calf roping with 9.4s; Charles Pogue (Oklahoma) and Bobby Harris (Wyoming) with 6.4 in team roping; Oklahoman Lanita Powers with 13.48 in barrel racing; Bret Franks of Oklahoma with 74 in saddlebronc; Louisiana steer wrestler Steve Duhon at 5.0; and New Mexico bull rider Johnny Chavez with 86.