The final round of the RFD-TV The American on Sunday at AT&T Stadium was similar to a closing performance of the Calgary Stampede.
At the July Stampede in Alberta, the winner of each event receives $100,000 (Canadian). At The American, each single event winner received $100,000.
Like the Stampede, The American’s performance began with every rider competing in a first round in each event. After that, four riders advanced to the finals where no previous scores counted.
With an abundance of prize money at stake, riders are relentless in the final round.
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At The American, the final-round qualifiers did not disappoint the 35,000 fans who came out despite frigid weather.
The winners in each bucking stock event scored in the elite 90s. The tie-down roping winner completed his run under 7 seconds.
The total purse at the Calgary Stampede is around $2 million. The purse at The American was $2 million.
But what set The American apart was the $2 million was paid out in one afternoon, making it the richest one-day rodeo in the sport’s history. At the Stampede, the $2 million has been paid out over 10 days in recent years.
“It was everything that I wanted,” said Randy Bernard, the leading organizer of The American. “The most important part to me was the ending. When you pay out that kind of money [$2 million] and you have one person earn $1.1 million, it’s one of the proudest moments in my life.”
The biggest beneficiary of The American’s $2 million payout was 21-year-old Richmond Champion, a Tarleton State junior agriculture major. After clinching the bareback riding title, he earned the $100,000 that was given to each event winner, plus $1 million that was set aside for up-and-coming competitor, which pushed his total earnings to $1.1 million.
Last year, Champion finished 25th in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association bareback world title race. But he earned the right to compete in the American after finishing in the top five at a Feb. 22-23 semifinals qualifier show in Mesquite.
Ryan Watkins, a 2009 National Finals Rodeo qualifier from Bluff Dale, earned $5,440 after winning the PRCA Wrangler Champions Challenge tour stop with a time of 7.9 on Thursday in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Shada Brazile of Decatur, a 2013 NFR qualifier, finished second in barrel racing with a 17.10 and earned $4,160.
Kaleb Driggers of Stephenville and Patrick Smith of Lipan won the team roping title after turning in a time of 4.5 seconds. Each earned $5,440.
Leading the race
Timber Moore of Aubrey earned $8,835 for winning tie-down roping title at the San Angelo Stock Show Rodeo last weekend.
He is ranked No. 1 in the world title race with regular-season earnings of $27,230.