LAS VEGAS -- Nearly all season long, Kody Lostroh had his doubters. For every question, he answered the best way he possibly could -- by winning.
There are no doubters now after the 24-year-old Lostroh clinched the Professional Bull Riders World Championship on Sunday.
"It's really a dream come true for me," said Lostroh, of Longmont, Colo., who entered the World Finals in first place in the Built Ford Tough Series World Standings, the season-long points race that determines the world champion.
All season, he had been locked in a three-way battle with J.B. Mauney and 2008 world champion Guilherme Marchi atop the world standings, a battle exacerbated by the fact that Lostroh suffered a torn tendon in his left elbow in late April.
Many questioned if he could even finish the year, much less compete for the world championship. He decided against surgery, however.
"They told me it was tore up pretty bad and I needed to wear a brace if I wanted to get through the rest of the season," said Lostroh, who was the 2005 PBR Rookie of the Year. "I tried the brace and it wasn't really working for me. I didn't feel like I could ride the way I needed to, so I just put it in God's hands and went on with it."
He left little doubt in the Finals, winning two of the eight rounds outright and sharing the win in a third and riding his first seven bulls.
His 90-point ride on SoulJa Boy of Priest Creek Ranch in Round 7 clinched him the world championship and the $1 million bonus that goes along with it.
PBR advisor Ty Murray said that even in a worst-case scenario -- meaning Mauney received the maximum points possible and Lostroh the fewest possible -- Lostroh would have won by 88 points.
In the end, Lostroh finished the season with 16,640 points, 594 ahead of Mauney, who finished second for the second consecutive year.
Still, Lostroh said he had no idea entering the Built Ford Tough Championship Round that he had already earned the gold buckle.
"I didn't have a clue what the points were, and to be honest with you, I didn't care," said Lostroh, who is scheduled to have surgery on the injured elbow Wednesday. "I was still there to do my job. I was planning on riding that bull no matter if I had it won or I didn't have it won."
On the final ride of the event, Lostroh was bucked off Voodoo Child at 7.47 seconds, a buckoff that prevented him from becoming only the second man in PBR history to win the world championship and the World Finals event title in the same year.
The event title, instead, went to Mauney, who became the first man to ever ride all eight bulls at the World Finals. (He will remain the only man to ever do it, since the event is condensing to five-day, six-round bull riding in 2010.)
The 22-year-old Mauney, of Mooresville, N.C., led the event standings through the first six rounds, but lost it briefly in Round 7 after Lostroh scored 90 points in the round and Mauney had an 86.75 after a salty ride on the bull Smack Down of Dakota Rodeo/Clay Struve, in which Mauney was hanging off the side of the bull at the end.
But he quickly recovered in the championship round, riding Black Pearl of Ravenscroft/Boyd & Floyd Bull Co., for 93.75 points -- the highest-marked ride of the World Finals. Lostroh's buckoff on Voodoo Child made Mauney the event champion.
"I came out here with the mindset to ride every bull I got on and it worked out, I drew right and I couldn't have asked for any better bulls," he said. "That's what every guy dreams of, is winning the World Finals and winning the world [title]. I'll try next year. I don't think I'm going to retire this year."
Mauney earned $343,000 for winning the World Finals, bringing his season total earnings to $742,207.
Lostroh wound up second in the World Finals event standings. With his $1 million bonus, he earned $1,601,624 this season.
He said he had no idea what he would do with his winnings.
"I don't have a clue," he said. "I still don't think it's sunk in yet. A million bucks is a lot of money. I may get a place that's a little bigger for me and my wife. That's the only thing I can think of."
Mauney said Lostroh earned the world title.
"Kody rode awesome," he said. "I done all I could and he came out on top and he's the world champion. He's the best bull rider in the world."
Brazilian Valdiron de Oliveira, who rode seven of his eight bulls in the World Finals, finished in third place overall, winning $107,000 for the week. He also finished fourth in the final world standings.
Marchi, despite a subpar showing in the World Finals, in which he bucked off his first five bulls, wound up third in the world standings race, his lowest finish in the past five years. In addition to his world title in 2008, he finished in second place each of the previous three years.
Make sure to follow ESPN Rodeo + Bull Riding @ www.twitter.com/espnrodeo for live updates from inside the Thomas & Mack Center.
Check back with ESPN.com and pbrnow.com all week long for continuing coverage of the 2009 PBR World Finals in Las Vegas.