The price of beef reached a record high Saturday morning at the Fort Worth Stock Show.
The grand champion steer, Bob Marley, sold for a record $240,000 in the annual Sale of Champions, the raucous, money-drenched event that closes the show each year.
That figure topped the previous high of $230,000 for the 2012 champion. Last year’s winner sold for $200,000.
The annual junior livestock sale features the best steers, barrows, lambs and goats — out of 11,000 entries — that were exhibited during the Stock Show. By the end of bidding Saturday, the sale had raised a record $3,709,361, outpacing last year’s total of $3,305,919.
Bob Marley — a 1,344-pound European crossbred steer shown by 17-year-old Madilyn Priesmeyer of Round Rock — was bought by a first-time bidder, Fort Worth-based Rxpress Compounding Pharmacy.
“We want to support the Stock Show and help the kids who have put in so much work. It has always been something we have wanted to be a part of. And now that we have the chance, we wanted to be sure that we made a big splash in our first time out there,” said Richard Hall, president of Rxpress.
Hall bid five times to outduel Hillwood Properties for the steer.
The price per pound for Bob Marley comes out to $178.57.
“I was born and raised in Fort Worth. We have known about this forever. It is an incredible tradition,” said Hall, noting that his family’s business traces its origins to a pharmacy opened more than 40 years ago by his father, Lewis Hall, who joined his son for Saturday’s sale. “And today, we were determined to leave with the [grand champion] steer, no matter what.”
The sale marked the 35th anniversary of the Fort Worth Stock Show Syndicate, a group of deep-pocketed bidders who often buy the top stock.
Hall was not a member of the syndicate for this sale, but he said he was invited to take part in the bidding as a “sponsor” by member Hal Lambert. Hall said he will be a member next year.
Priesmeyer’s smile at her payday displayed both surprise and delight.
“I was so shocked. I had no idea it would go that high,” said Priesmeyer, a senior at Hyde Park High School in Austin.
She said she will use the money for college. Texas State University in San Marcos is her first choice.
Priesmeyer said this will end her showing career, which began when she was 8. But she will be helping her 13-year-old brother, Blake, show his steers.
And now that she won’t have to spend so many hours feeding, grooming and showing steers, what will she to do with the free time?
“Well, I used to dance,” said she tentatively.
As for Bob Marley, he received a reprieve from the slaughterhouse — a gesture that has become common at the Sale of Champions.
“We are going to donate it to the Fort Worth Zoo,” Hall said.
The reserve champion steer, shown by Myka Blissard of Big Spring, sold for $150,000 to the Women Steering Business group.
Blissard has no idea what she’ll do with that much money.
“I’m only in the eighth grade,” she said, explaining why the money isn’t earmarked for the education she eventually wants from Texas Tech.
Some of the money brought by the steer — named J.Z. — will be used to buy a heifer to show next year.
“We already celebrated last night,” Myka said. “We went to Del Frisco’s.”
Like Bob Marley, J.Z. will be loaned to the zoo for a year, then sold.
The proceeds will go into the war chest of Women Steering Business so it can buy livestock from other young women at next year’s sale, said Becky Borbolla, the group’s president and founder.
“It’s been a while since two young ladies have been at the top, and we wanted to support one of them,” Borbolla said. “We have a few other girls we’re watching today.”
Grand champion lamb
Claire Hamlett, 17, of Snyder sold Bear, her grand champion lamb, for $40,000 to Christopher Bass and American Aero.
The Snyder High School junior started showing animals for the Snyder County 4-H in her freshman year.
“My sister Sydney showed pigs, but I’ve always liked lambs,” Hamlett said.
The win was a blessing for the family in an otherwise hectic and heartbreaking week.
“It’s been a little bit of an emotional roller coaster,” said Claire’s mother, Penny Hamlett.
Claire’s grandmother, Barbara Hamlett of Lubbock, died this week, and her services were held Friday in Fort Worth, her hometown. Claire’s father, John Hamlett, attended his mother’s services while his daughter showed her lamb, and he didn’t get to see her win.
Mikala Grady, 13, of Grandview collected $55,000 for her grand champion barrow, Blue Duck, minutes before half brother Braden Grady, 18, of McCamey got $35,000 for his goat, Bam Bam.
Their father, Brad Grady of Grandview, was pretty excited.
“Mikala also shows steers, so we were in three barns yesterday for three different species,” Brad Grady said. “This is a phenomenal feat for our family.”
Mikala Grady, a seventh-grader at Grandview Junior High School, has shown pigs for six years and showed a steer for the first time this year. She got third in her class for steers.
It’s not her first time in the winner’s circle, though.
“I got grand champion barrow in Houston last year,” she said.
Blue Duck was bought by the Syracuse’s Sausage Co., an announcement that drew a knowing “oooh” from the crowd.
Braden Grady, a senior at McCamey High School, shows sheep and goats.
“This is the first year I’ve won a major class,” he said. “The judge said he [Bam Bam] was really thick and handled really well.”
His goat was bought by Tim and Karen Anfin and their family.
“It’s in memory of my grandfather, John McMillan,” said Tim Anfin, explaining that his grandfather had bought grand champion steers, barrows and lambs in previous years. McMillan died in 2001.
The McMillan family owned Coors Distributing Co. for nearly 50 years before selling it last year. The family has a long tradition of buying livestock at the Sale of Champions, including last year’s grand champion steer for $200,000.
“We’re just following up on what he started,” Karen Anfin said.
In her fourth and last year at the Stock Show, Coy Mercer of Tahoka made the sale for the first time and saw her European crossbred draw $37,000 from Stock Show President Ed Bass.
Saturday was Mercer’s 18th birthday, and her mom, Kim Mercer, was in tears knowing that her daughter would have some money to start on a degree from West Texas A&M.
“She didn’t have a lot for school before this,” Kim Mercer said. “It’s wonderful to see all that hard work pay off for her.”
Coy Mercer said she wants to study animal science and work toward a career selling supplies to veterinarians.
Bass said he will send the steer to his ranch in southwest Tarrant County. He said he gets a kick every year out of helping kids realize their goals.
“I’ll take this steer back to Winscott Ranch, where it will become part of our herd of steers,” Bass said. “This year’s sale was spectacular. It shows the value we place on what these young people do.”
Staff writer Shirley Jinkins and correspondent Terry Evans contributed to this report.
Big winners, bigger paydays
Prices paid for the grand champion steer at the annual Sale of Champions:
2015 Sale of Champions
Grand champion steer: $240,000
Shown by Madilyn Priesmeyer of Round Rock
Bought by Rxpress Compounding Pharmacy — Lewis Hall and Richard Hall
Reserve grand champion steer: $150,000
Shown by Myka Blissard of Big Spring
Bought by Women Steering Business
Grand champion barrow: $55,000
Shown by Mikala Grady of Grandview
Bought by Syracuse’s Sausage Co.
Reserve grand champion barrow: $25,000
Shown by Tyler Kelly of Bullard
Bought by Dr. Bill Bonnell
Grand champion lamb: $40,000
Shown by Claire Hamlett of Snyder
Bought by Christopher Bass and American Aero
Reserve grand champion lamb: $30,000
Shown by Brynn Owen of Canyon
Bought by Ladies on the Lamb
Grand champion wether goat: $35,000
Shown by Braden Grady of McCamey
Bought by Tim and Karen Anfin and family in memory of John McMillan
Reserve grand champion goat: $15,000
Shown by Payton Williams of Comanche
Bought by Erin Davis