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☛ The American pays out $2 million 2-27-18



By Glory Ann Kurtz
Photos by Andy Watson/Bullstock Media

Feb. 27, 2018

The American Champions! Photo by Andy Watson

The world’s best cowboys and cowgirls worked all year to qualify or be invited to the world’s richest one-day rodeo, The American, with the outstanding Finals being held Saturday, Feb. 25 at AT&T Stadium, the home of the Dallas Cowboys football team.

Following an outstanding, patriotic pre-show, which included veterans coming down ropes from the ceiling, three champions each took home $433,333 paychecks, as well as the $100,000 checks they earned for winning their division in the semi-finals. They included four-time PRCA World Champion Bareback Rider Kaycee Feild, who rode C5 Rodeo Company’s “Virgil,” the reigning bareback horse of the year to a 90.75;  six-time NFR Steer Wrestling qualifier Matt Reeves, who wrestled his steer down in 3/73 seconds, and ERA Bronc Rider of the Year Champion Cort Scheer, who came through the ranks of the qualifiers for riding Frontier’s Medicine Women, the four-time saddle bronc of the year, to a whooping 89 point ride.

After over seven hours of televised competition between top invited athletes from the PRCA, PBR and WPRA, as well as “qualifiers” who had to earn their spot on the program by rodeoing and winning throughout the year and advancing from a semifinals held prior to The American. The event made the “American Dream” come true to those who advanced out of the semifinals in each division to split the million-dollar purse.

Invitee’s Taci Bettis (Barrel Racing), Junior Nogueira and Kaleb Driggers (Team Roping) the reigning PBR World Champion Jess Lockwood and reigning The American Tie-Down Roping Champion Marty Yates earned $100,000 each.

In a heart-warming interview, Nogueira told the press he missed out on his late father’s Brazilian Hall of Fame induction ceremony for a chance to win The American dream. His father had passed away doing what he loved most – roping!

During the award’s ceremony, Feild was asked what he planned to do with his newly signed check. Feild responded, “When I retire from rodeoing, I don’t have to go get a 9-5. I can stay home with my kids and see them off to school and pick them up at  home when they get off the school bus.”


The American invited the top rodeo athletes in seven events from the PRCA, WPRA and PBR to compete for a $2 million purse at AT&T stadium. Anyone could qualify via the semifinals, which paid $500,000 and any contestant who advances to The American and outrides or outraces the sport’s super stars is eligible for an additional $1 million bonus at the Finals.

There were three ways to qualify for competition in The American. The top contestants in the world received invitations and were called “invitees.” Additionally, a handful of exemptions are offered to the brightest stars in the sport. Also hopeful contestants could pay an entry fee to compete as “qualifiers” held throughout the year sanctioned by Better Barrel Races, Professional Bull Riders, Ultimate Calf Roping and the World’s Toughest Rodeo.

During the past year nearly 4,000 entries competed at 70 qualifying events to make The American semifinals, where nearly 600 athletes from around the world battled for 38 byes into The American.

One of the more exciting events was the barrel race. A 10-year-old barrel racing qualifier, London Gorham, who was awarded a check totaling $40,681 for winning Thursday’s barrel racing semifinals with a 13.74. The win made London the youngest competitor to advance the furthest in The American semifinals. Although she missed making the semifinals, she was presented with the “Up and Comer Award” and received an additional check of $5,000 for competing in the semifinals. Both the winnings and award made an almost $50,000 day for the 10-year-old.

However, even though she is only 10, London is no newcomer to rodeo. Her dad, Shorty Gorham, is also a PBR bullfighter and was at work at The American. Her Grandpa is Phil Lyne, a legendary rodeo cowboy who competed professionally in five events and won five PRCA world titles in three different events. Also, she was competing against her uncle, PBR World Champion bull rider J. B. Mauney who finished fourth overall in the bull riding.

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