$2 Million Payday at RFD-TV's The American
The top cowboys and cowgirls threw it all out on the line February 25 in AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys.
By Tara Matsler, managing editor of AQHA's Performance Horse Journal | February 25, 2018
Dirt replaced turf February 25 as the world’s best cowboys and cowgirls took up residence in AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys. RFD-TV’s The American, the world’s richest one-day rodeo, paid out $2 million dollars to the best athletes in Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, Professional Bull Riders Association and Women’s Professional Rodeo Association, as well as those who earned their spots as qualifiers, making the American dream come true for three athletes who advanced out of the semi-finals to split the million-dollar purse.
Six-time world champion steer wrestler Matt Reeves was the lone timed-event winner to split the $1 million payday exclusive to qualifiers; he split the winnings with bareback rider Kaycee Field and saddle bronc rider Cort Scheer.
In addition to bragging rights, each event winner took home a $100,000 check.
- STEER WRESTLING: Six-time NFR qualifer steer wrestler Matt Reeves was a rapid 3.73 to win $433,000 from the qualifiers pool.
- TIE-DOWN ROPING: Reigning American tie-down roping champion Marty Yates, became a two-time American champion, beating his own fastest time and The American's record time. He heads home to Stephenville, Texas, with a time of 6.38 and a check for $100,000. .Marty was aboard Lights On Hickory, aka "Buster."
- TEAM ROPING: Kaleb Driggers (header) Junior Nogueira (heeler) took home separate checks for $100,000, becoming the 2018 American team roping champions. They stopped the clock with a time of 4.57.
- BARREL RACING: Invitee Taci Bettis took $100,000 home to Round Top, Texas, after running a 14.845. Taci was riding Bogie Is A Smash, aka "Smash"
Earning the all-around title was Wesley Thorp, the only roper in The American history to make the finals as both a header (for Seth Smithson) and as a heeler (for Speed Williams). Thorp and Williams won the semifinals with a 4.32-second run and finished third overrall in Sunday night's finals.
Winning America's hearts and the Up-and-Comer Award was 10-year-old barrel racer London Gorham, who rode Frenchmans Assassin to top the semifinals.
Barrel racer Jane Fambro was presented the Back-in-the-Saddle award. The 28-year-old has survived thyroid cancer, but tearfully explained to the semifinals' crowd that the cancer has returned. She also lost her beloved horse last October yet continues to compete with the heart of a champion.