The Richest Weekend in Western Sports
Most TV watchers are familiar with the show “Who wants to be a Millionaire.” Well, The American provides the opportunity for one cowboy or cowgirl to become a millionaire in a single day.
RFD TV’s The American 2019 came to an end Sunday, March 3rd. Over the span of five days, cowboys and cowgirls were competing for the biggest payout out in rodeo, $2.35 million total dollars in prize money.
There are two types of competitors at The American. The top ten in Pro Rodeo Cowboy Association world standings are invited, so they get to compete automatically because they have already earned their place in the world standing.
The second half of the competitors are qualifying. In order to qualify, they have to make qualify at one of the qualifiers hosted around the US. Then, they advance on to the Semi-Finals in Fort Worth, Texas. There are three performances in the Semi-Finals. Each performance serves as an elimination round.
Tilden Hooper was one of the bareback invitees. He is a 5-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifiers.
“Being a Texas guy and getting to ride at Cowboy stadium and get to do it for a million dollars that’s a dream come true, it’s exciting, I can’t wait,” said Hooper. The American did not go as Hooper had envisioned, but that is part of rodeo. There is always another one to compete at.
The qualifiers are the only ones that are eligible to win the $1 million dollars. The invites can win between $100,000 and $110,000 dollars. The finals were held at the Cowboy’s AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Aside from the monstrous payout, this rodeo is unique because qualifiers are pitted against the best athletes in the world.
The experience of competing in The American is a dream for many. It’s where passion meets perseverance with a chance to make a name for themselves and win a life-changing check.
In an interview with Ryder Wright, the youngest cowboy in PRCA history to win the World Champion Saddle Bronc Championship he expressed what it meant to him to be competing in this specific rodeo.
“Competing at The American is awesome, it’s the biggest stage of Professional Rodeo and to be here as an invitee is awesome,” said Wright.
He competed in the shootout round against his dad, World Champion Saddle Bronc rider Cody Wright, to win the $100,000 dollars.
On Saturday night, in the long go, Wyatt Denny split the performance win with Try Bruer with an 86.50.
“The life of rodeo has really changed with more money being added and this counting toward the world finals. To make a living at it is awesome and to win a million dollars at it, you’re set,” said Denny.
This performance win moved Denny into the top 8 round, earning himself another chance to ride. Denny was in contention for the $1 million dollars.
“If I won it I’d probably put it into going to more rodeos and go to less rodeos and hopefully go to the ones I wanted to and put some of it down on a ranch, land or cows,” said Denny.
Winning that much money is almost unfathomable. Coleman Proctor and Ryan Motes, a team roping duo that qualified, were in the drivers seat of the million dollars until bull rider Joao Ricardo Vieira came out on top during the final four. The three of them split the million dollars.
This was the first time in rodeo history that women could compete in breakaway during a professional rodeo. Anyone who watched The American this year watched history in the making. This was huge for the breakaway event. They had over 400 competitors.
Madison Outhier, a sophomore in high school, took home the $110,000 dollar check. Her family has a breeding program back home called LA Water Quarter Horses , and the horse she competed on was one that her family bred and raised.
Her winning the breakaway was just as exciting for her dad Mike Outhier, who is the two time Linderman Award winner. This is a prestigious award. Madison comes from a long line of rodeo cowboys, and the sport is in her blood.
RFD TV’s The American has had so many positive effects on the sport, and it’s competitors since it was created 6 years ago.
This rodeo serves as a huge advantage to not only the qualifiers because they are vying for the million dollars but also the invitees because $50,000 dollars of their winnings counts towards PRCA World Standings.
The American was designed to give everyone who is competing a life-changing opportunity. After all, it is the richest weekend in western sports.