Lunchbox sells for $205,000 at Fort Worth Stock Show

02/08/2013 11:51 PM

03/14/2013 2:28 PM

FORT WORTH -- Stock Martin, a skinny sixth-grader from the Panhandle town of Hereford, knew his steer would be named grand champion at the Fort Worth Stock Show this year.

Stock's mother told him so after he won second place at the Junior Steer Show last year.

"We told him we were back to win it this year," Sherri Martin said.

And so he did.

On Friday, Stock's 7-month-old, 1,329-pound black European crossbred, appropriately named Lunchbox, was crowned grand champion.

Today, Lunchbox sold for $205,000 at the Junior Sale of Champions, the annual Stock Show-ending auction featuring about 300 champion steers, hogs, lambs and goats from the youth shows.

All proceeds go to the youths who showed the animals.

Last year's sale raised a record $2.9 million, including a record $230,000 for the grand champion steer.

Stock said his prize money will go toward his college savings and more cattle.

"It's so exciting I can't explain it," said Stock, 12.

That capped quite a year for Stock: His steer Woodpecker was reserve champion at the 2012 Stock Show, and his steer Beast was grand champion at the State Fair of Texas.

He exchanged a tearful hug with his mom and high-fives and big smiles with well-wishers after judge Mark Johnson, associate professor of animal science at Oklahoma State University, gave the nod to Lunchbox inside the packed W.R. Watt Arena at the Will Rogers Memorial Center on Friday.

'Best you can ask for'

Lunchbox was born in August, about a month premature, to the Martin family's breeding program.

"We knew we had a good one when he was born," Stock said. "He's gentle. Look at him; he's the best you can ask for."

Stock's father, Brian Martin, attributed much of the family's show success to breeding. Stock's sister, Saige, won a European crossbred class with her own steer on Friday, her 10th birthday. That animal will also be in the Sale of Champions.

"It's genetics," Martin said. "The cows we have, and our breeding program, we feel like it's some of the best in the country."

The family runs about 300 head of cattle.

Lunchbox's mother also produced a grand champion steer in Iowa, he said.

Stock and Saige spend a fair number of hours working the cattle -- after school on weekdays and beginning at 7 a.m. on weekends, Stock said.

Stock, a member of the Oldham County 4-H, has shown animals since age 5, when he won grand champion miniature Hereford steer at a show in Denver.

At last year's Stock Show, Ross Perot Jr. bought Stock's steer for $155,000.

Stock, having won grand champion, can't show here in that category again.

But Saige represents the rapidly ascending next generation of champion Martins.

Just a few weeks ago, she beat her brother with different steers at the Oldham County Fair.

"He did want to beat her today," Sherri Martin joked in the tunnel beneath the Watt Arena as Stock and Lunchbox posed for pictures.

Sale of Champions

The reserve champion was a 1,307-pound European crossbred named Blackie, shown by Flint Newman, 17, of Stanton, who wasn't really sure why the judge picked his steer.

"I don't know. I worked with him a whole lot this year," said the junior at Stanton High School.

Newman, who hopes to attend South Plains College in Levelland, has also won before.

He had the grand champion steer at San Antonio last year.

And winning runs in the family.

His sister Dakota had the grand champion steer at the Houston Stock Show in 2005.

"I come home on the weekends and help him," said Dakota, a junior animal science major at Texas Tech.

"But he takes good care of them."

The Martins and Newmans were treated to a steak dinner Friday night at Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steakhouse downtown, in what's become another Stock Show tradition.

As the families enjoyed their dinners, members of the nonprofit Fort Worth Stock Show Syndicate and several other groups that raise money to spend in the auction were preparing to open their wallets Saturday morning.

The festivities began over a breakfast of eggs and adult beverages at Casa Mañana.

A new group, the Fort Worth Business Women, formed under the syndicate's auspices, announced at midweek that it had raised $40,000 it wants to spend on one steer raised by a girl.

The grand champion and reserve champion will do well, but "our goal is 100 percent of the animals get sold at the highest possible price," said Eddie Arguijo, the syndicate's vice chairman.

Correspondent Punch Shaw contributed to this report.

Scott Nishimura,

817-390-7808

Twitter: @JScottNishimura

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