Ryan Motes grew up in a successful rodeo family and knows that large winner’s checks are hard to earn.
His father, David, snared the team roping world title in 1977, and his uncle, Dennis, qualified for the National Finals Rodeo 22 times.
Motes, 38, represents the majority of world class rodeo competitors who chip away at qualifying for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas by earning numerous smaller checks throughout the regular season.
But during the past weekend, Motes, a four-time National Finals team roping qualifier from Weatherford, wrangled $433,333 in total earnings at The RFD-TV’s The American at AT&T Stadium after winning the team roping heeling title.
“If we can win $4,000 or $5,000 we are having a really good rodeo,” Motes said. “But to come over here and win [more than] $433,000, this is really a great rodeo.”
The American, which concluded Sunday, offered competitors $2.35 million, a world record payoff for a two-day rodeo.
Motes pocketed one of The American’s larger payouts because he was among three competitors who pocketed a share of the $1 million “sidepot” that was within the $2.35 million purse. The riders who were eligible for the sidepot were those who didn’t finish high in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association/Women’s Professional Rodeo Association standings last year and had to earn a berth in The American through a qualifying system.
The other two $433,333 winners were Motes’ team roping partner Coleman Proctor of Pryor, Okla., and Joao Ricardo Vieira of Decatur, who clinched the bull riding title.
Motes, Proctor and Vieira split the $1 million. Each cowboy earned $333,333 plus $100,000 that goes to the winner of each of the other main rodeo events.
The other $100,000 winners were bareback rider Orin Larsen, saddle bronc rider Ryder Wright, steer wrestler Ty Erickson, tie-down roper Caleb Smidt, barrel racer Hailey Kinsel and break-away roper Madison Outhier.
Outhier fascinated fans because she’s a 16-year-old high school sophomore from Utopia. All in all, she earned $110,000 throughout The American.
For the first time, the American’s main men’s single events were approved by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association and some of the prize money counts in world title races ($50,000 of a $100,000 winner’s check will count toward the 2019 world standings).
For example, Motes received a $100,000 check that went to every main single event winner, but $50,000 of it will count in the world standings. Motes entered The American ranked sixth in the PRCA’s team roping heeling world title race with $17,665. But after earning $50,000, his 2019 earnings will jump to more than $67,000, which might be enough to earn a National Finals berth.
Motes and Proctor clinched The American’s team roping title with a finals time of 4.24 seconds. Vieira clinched the bull riding title with a score of 87.
Vieira is on a roll. On Feb. 23, he pocketed $146,000 for winning the Professional Bull Riders’ Iron Cowboy title in Los Angeles.