Luke Creasy Rodeo Interview
Editor’s Note from Terry Middleditch
RodeoCountryRadio.com is proud to exclusively present The Rodeo Road with Luke Creasy…In his first report, Bareback Rider & Journalist Luke meets up and interviews RFD-TV’s The American Bareback Winners…. Richie Champion & Taylor Price…….
THE PRICE OF RICHES- WINNING THE AMERICAN
A Conversation Interview with Taylor Price and Richmond Champion
By: Luke Creasy
The American, in Dallas, TX is the biggest one day pay day in the sport of rodeo. Last year, Richmond “Richie” Champion came in as a qualifier and won the bareback riding. He was the only qualifier, (not one of 10 from the NFR), to win his respective event and walked away with not only the $100,000 an event winner can win, but also the entire $1 million bonus qualifiers are eligible for. This year Richie failed to defend his title but watched as his longtime friend Taylor Price won the event as a qualifier, splitting the million with calf roping qualifier Reese Riemer.
I had a chance to sit with Richie and Taylor and ask them a few questions about their American experience. Here is their dual interview…
YOUR FINANCIAL SITUATION BEFORE AMERICAN WINNINGS?
“I was very, very broke.” Taylor laughed, relieved, “I didn’t have very much money. I had about $1,200 going into it and I was really hoping to win. And I’d just bought a new van,”
“So you were in debt,” Richie added.
“I was going to be in debt very shortly.”
Richie’s situation was not near as dire when he won 1.1 Million at last year’s American, “I was having the best year I’ve ever had, so things were rolling by the time I got to Dallas, but it was a nice bonus for sure,” he laughs, “All I’m saying is there’s a lot of money sitting in the corner right now, we shouldn’t be sitting so close together.”
HOW LONG HAVE YOU KNOWN EACH OTHER?
“Five or 6 years now, High School,” they chatter amongst each other trying to pin point the time.
“Yea, since the end of high school,” Richie concluded.
Taylor chimes in, “He knew me before I knew him.”
“That’s true, I did know him and he didn’t remember me, even though I’d known him for like a year.” Richie admitted.
“You were just some crappy bull rider,” Taylor fills in with a casual matter of factness.
“It’s true,” Richie laughs.
Though the two don’t travel together currently as Richie now lives in Stephenville, TX and Taylor in Huntsville, TX the pair started their pro rodeo career together travelling on their permits in 2011.
ON WATCHING EACH OTHER WIN THE AMERICAN:
“It was crazy last year to see Richie win,” Taylor reminisced, “because nobody really knew how that deal was going to pan out. First event, they’re like, yea, he’s going to get paid a million dollars, this is real. There’s a lot of people who had doubts about it.
Richie credited Taylor for talking him into entering the American qualifier event that led to the million dollar pay out, “Taylor actually talked me into entering the qualifier, “Cummon, we don’t have anything going on, let’s go up to Gillette.”” Then Richie explained how it felt watching Taylor win this year’s event, “I was trying to defend it, but that didn’t work out. I was pretty tickled for him to win it. I had a feeling, cause Cheyenne kinda felt the same way. Short round, I didn’t make it, I was close, Taylor gets Show Stomper, I was like, he’s going do it again, and he did. It was way too similar.” “I felt the same thing,” Taylor chimed in.
“I think it went better this time than Cheyenne,” Richie asserts. “It was awesome to watch him thinking he didn’t make the whistle. Me and his Dad are sitting there going, “He has no idea.” Then they yell out 89 and we lost it. It was cool, really cool.”
After winning Cheyenne on Show Stomper in 2013 and the American in 2015 the horse is hands down Taylor’s favorite horse.
PLAINLY, HOW DID IT FEEL TO WIN THE AMERICAN?
“Surreal.” Richie said, eyes wide, “It took a while for that to set in. I was more pumped about riding Assault, getting him knocked out and winning the bareback riding, I didn’t know what was going on till the barrel racing. They told me, if Lisa Lockhart runs clean, you’ve got it. And she ran clean, and did it again this year, consistent. I would love to have her back me up for a million dollars any day. I was in El Paso, I was 65 points and they come interview me, somebody was like 85 and they paid him no mind… I hate doing that, cause you’re not excited, you just got led around like a child. I came up to Jared Smith and said, “Why do they always do that?” to which he replied, “You have no idea what you did that day do you?” and I was just like, “No…” I’m still learning how much that has changed not only my life, but rodeo. It’s something else.”
“It’s just crazy to think about. I was hoping I’d win it, but I never imagined I would. It puts you on cloud 9. Kind of hard to explain,” Taylor tried to explain, at a loss for words.
“It is, you have no words for it. I’ve answered this question a million times, and it’s the only reason I have an answer for it. I’m not sure if it’s the true answer other than it sounds good. I’ve had time to think on it and he will too.
FIRST THING THAT RAN THROUGH YOUR HEAD?
Richie tilted his head in mock thought, “Ummm, no f#<%ing way? You’ve got to be kidding me, this is real life? Ok we can do this.”
“Yea, pretty much the same.” Taylor agreed.
WINNING THE MILLION VS. A 2WAY SPLIT:
“I would have rather won all of it,” Taylor admitted.
“But you didn’t,” Richie added laughing. “I’m glad I didn’t win half,” Richie continued the good-natured ribbing at Taylor, “because that would have sucked.”
WAS IT A LITTLE BITTER FEELING THAT SOMEONE SNAKED IN ON YOUR GLORY TAYLOR?
“Oh yea,” Taylor said blatantly.
“I could see that, I wouldn’t know but I could see that,” Richie laughed.
“But you can’t be mad, good for him too.” Taylor added, “I was definitely rooting for winning it all, I wasn’t rooting against anyone, but I was definitely rooting for the top ten guys so I won the million. Ask anyone, would you rather have 1.1 million or 600 thousand… Hmmmm.”
WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH THE MONEY AND WHAT DO YOU HAVE PLANNED FOR THE MONEY?
Richie, who’s had his 1.1 million for over a year chose to take the question first, “I invested the money and act like I don’t have it. Let it sit there and let it work for me. It’s all still there after a year. It was a long process to get everything set up, I got incorporated. That’s helped out a lot. I want to be able to buy stuff whenever I want, one day but right now I just want to rodeo. Can’t sit there and count your money when you still want to be winning some. I’ve bought an RV, a gun, and some golf clubs. I bought ten acres, and put some house plans together… just normal 22 year old stuff.”
Taylor nodded as Richie rattled off his use of the money, then laughed, “Today I spent like $3000 online, stuff I wanted to buy when I was broke.”
“Seriously?” Richie burst out.
“Yea,” Taylor rattled off a list of items, mostly gifts for family and his girlfriend then continues, “I am going to buy a skid steer and a mini-excavator for Price Dozer and Tractor Service, (his Dad’s company).” Taylor plans on investing his money in his father’s company and other unknown ventures.
GENERAL THOUGHTS ON THE AMERICAN?
“It’s amazing, its life changing. It’s the best thing I’ve ever been to.” Taylor said, wide eyed, still in disbelief at what had occurred there on the biggest day of his life, 3 days before this interview.
“I’ve been there and won it and been there and not won and it’s still the coolest rodeo both times. There’s nothing that trumps it. I’ve been to the NFR and that’s a dream come true, cool as hell. That’s the reason it’s the NFR… they’re the same level, but It’s hard to put them next to each other because they’re so different. That American is the real deal, it’s awesome!” Richie concluded.
Taylor went on, “I told a few people, just from watching it last year, I knew how amazing it was going to be, win lose or draw… I think that’s why I did so well, I had such a good attitude going into it. I was just excited to be there. It was the biggest rodeo in history of rodeo and they’re letting me ride in it. I was just dang excited.”
“That’s the way I felt last year. I was so pumped,” Richie elaborated upon hearing Taylor’s response, “When I walked into that arena I was like, this is the coolest thing I’ve ever seen. I thought, ‘I don’t have a million dollars, I don’t have a hundred thousand dollars, it’s not going to be a big deal if I don’t have it when I leave… But I sure would like to. And it worked out. And it was the same thing for TP this year. They give you jackets, hundred X hats, and boots? What? Sweet… They treat you like athletes, put you up in rooms. Inside and outside the arena, that whole production and the cowboys that go there are top of the line.”
“Yea, they’re amazing,” Taylor nodded in agreement.
HOW DOES IT FEEL TO GO FROM JUST A COWBOY, TO AN ICON OVERNIGHT?
Richie pursed lips in thought, than streamed an answer, refined over the past year, “It was overwhelming at first, because you go from a guy showing up at a rodeo just to ride to having the responsibility of almost carrying that title, because it’s such a change to the sport therefore all the lights are on you and you have to find a way to show up and compete at the best of your ability but also be able to take the time to be personable, take the interviews, take every opportunity, not just for you but for the sport of rodeo to put a positive attitude towards it. That’s what the sport needs, because the million dollars is going to bring headlines, or 600 thousand, the American title brings headlines. If it’s getting out there to people who don’t know rodeo great, but you’ve got to be able to accept the responsibility of however we portray what we do, and how much you love it and how awesome it is. If you can’t get that passion over to people to put a positive spin on it then you’ve failed. It’s difficult at first but you get used to it. You take a deep breathe and okay, this whole goal of mine to be a professional rodeo cowboy just happened, but it happened like that,” Richie said snapping his fingers, “You didn’t ease into it. Everything you wanted is on your doorstep and you’ve got to sort through it and find a way to make it work.”
“I think something I’ve noticed in just the short time, I mean it’s only been a few days for me,” Taylor added, a disclaimer for not having the well-rehearsed rhetoric Richie’d regurgitated, “used to be if you did bad you could just walk off and no one noticed, you don’t have to talk to anybody. Now you get off and people see you. Last night I was just trying to hang out and I was kind of in a bad mood about how I did and people are wanting to see me and take pictures of me and I’m just like, ‘You’ve got to do this, you can’t be a dick.’ These people love rodeo. Last night I didn’t ride good, it’s hard adjusting to that, just being a guy at a rodeo to being someone they know, it’s really strange, but it’s worth it.”