How a Bullfight Is Organized.

Big Business Is Bullfighting

Bullfighting generates big money, but not everyone engaged is making a fortune off of it. Some argue that government subsidies are the only way to keep bullfighting alive.

It is not uncommon for elite Spanish matadors to be regarded and compensated like rock stars, receiving more than $100,000 for each bullfight and putting on 30 to 40 shows per year on average [source: Lowe]. The top matadors may earn a lot of money via sponsorship agreements and other means, such as name recognition and other advantages that come with fame. Fights regularly continue in Mexico, Peru, and other Latin American countries after they end in Spain.

Bullfighting contributes to the economy of nations where it is practiced. Bullfighting schools charge fees to teach future matadors. Bulls are bred on specialized ranches. The intricate traje de luces are made by hand by sewists, costing between $2,000 and $3,000. It’s estimated that 400 people work in an arena like Las Ventas in Madrid, including 15 veterinarians.

Bullfighting has been banned in several sections of Spain and elsewhere in the globe since 2008, and as a result, fewer individuals are generating money from corridas than they used to. According to GAD Capital, Spanish bullfights fell from roughly 1,000 in 2008 to 800 last year. Bullfights in small towns formerly supported by the government have been slashed to save money.

Bullfighting may be on the verge of extinction for reasons other than the economy. An increasingly loud animal rights movement has succeeded in getting bullfighting outlawed, even in locations where many believed it had been in place for generations.

The Osborne Bulls

Many sections of Spain have gorgeous bulls silhouetted against the sky, gigantic creatures so large that you can’t conceive the matador who would battle them. You may take a deep breath and relax. No one dares to take up their challenge. Not any more. Since 1957, metal bull-shaped ads for Veterano brandy known as “Osborne bulls” have peppered the landscape of Spain. Since then, the once-vulnerable ad critter has gained legal protection. Because of Spain’s 1994 legislation outlawing roadside advertising, Osborne decided to erase the bulls’ brand labels and proclaim the works of art instead of advertising. The bulls are still standing today because the Spanish Parliament approved them. Melilla, a Spanish-North African enclave, welcomed the Bull for the first time in 2011 as it crossed the Mediterranean.

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