(NASHVILLE, TENN. — AUGUST 19, 2015) For the third straight year, the world’s richest one-day rodeo will return to AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. RFD-TV’s THE AMERICAN, presented by Polaris RANGER on Feb. 28, 2016, together with The American Semi-Finals, Feb. 17-21 in Fort Worth, will be televised live and offer a cash-and-prize purse of more than $2.5 million.
THE AMERICAN invites the top 10 rodeo athletes in the world in seven events to compete for a $1 million purse in the home of the Dallas Cowboys. Anyone can qualify via the Semi-Finals – which last year paid out a half-million dollars – and any contestant who advances to THE AMERICAN and out-rides or out-ropes the sport’s elite stars is eligible for an additional $1 million bonus on Feb. 28.
At the inaugural event in 2014, bareback rider Richmond Champion took home $1.1 million for two eight-second rides. The star-studded field of hopeful qualifiers that first year included dozens of world champions and several athletes who came out of retirement specifically to compete, including two-time PBR world champion Justin McBride and 11-time barrel racing world champ Charmayne James. A highlight for fans was the remarkable performance of 70-year-old barrel racer June Holeman.
“We’re building exposure and creating a platform for these tremendous athletes, but at the same time, it’s the surprising underdogs who seem to be capturing the hearts of rodeo fans,” said Randy Bernard, CEO of RFD-TV Events.
Last year, 9-year-old Chayni Chamberlain advanced all the way into contention for a million-dollar-win, and fans were bowled over by the determination of paraplegic barrel racer Amberley Snyder. In addition, three remarkable contestants – Lisa Lockhart, Wade Sundell and Kaleb Driggers – repeated their 2014 championships at THE AMERICAN to each pick up a check for $100,000 two years running.
Bernard will discuss the third edition of THE AMERICAN live on RFD-TV at 9 p.m. (ET) Wednesday, Aug. 19.
“I knew this rodeo had tremendous potential, but in two short years, THE AMERICAN has grown faster than any sporting event I’ve been associated with,” Bernard said. “Together with our great sponsors, RFD-TV is excited to again showcase the best rodeo athletes in the world and give them a chance to make the kind of money they would make in any other professional sport.”
Polaris RANGER will mark its third year as the presenting sponsor of THE AMERICAN.
“We’re proud to be continuing our partnership with RFD-TV’s THE AMERICAN,” said Beth Shimanski, marketing manager of off-road vehicles for Polaris. “This unique rodeo format has brought excitement to the rodeo community and we are thrilled to be back as a part of the event.”
At the 2016 AMERICAN, fans can expect to see today’s most spectacular stock matched against rodeo and bull-riding superstars including world champions J.B. Mauney, Trevor Brazile, Silvano Alves, Kaycee Feild and Clay O’Brien Cooper.
THE AMERICAN will again coincide with the PBR’s Iron Cowboy, scheduled for Feb. 27, 2016, in AT&T Stadium. The second PBR Major of the 2016 Built Ford Tough Series features the top 40 stars of the PBR riding the sport’s rankest bulls until one cowboy prevails – hence the name “iron cowboy.” Together, THE AMERICAN and Iron Cowboy constitute the richest weekend in Western sports, which is expected to draw more than 100,000 fans to North Texas.
There are three ways to qualify for competition in THE AMERICAN. The top 10 contestants in the world receive automatic invitations. Additionally, a handful of exemptions are offered to the brightest rising stars and retired Hall-of-Famers in the sport. And finally, hopeful contestants can pay an entry fee to compete at “qualifiers” throughout the year sanctioned by Better Barrel Races, Professional Bull Riders, Professional Rough Stock Series, Ultimate Calf Roping and United States Team Roping Championships. Last year, nearly 4,000 entries were fielded at 70 qualifying events for the half-million-dollar American Semi-Finals in Fort Worth, where nearly 600 athletes from around the world battled for 38 byes into THE AMERICAN.
Tickets for THE AMERICAN and Iron Cowboy go on sale to the general public on Friday, Aug. 28 at 10 a.m. (CT) and range in price from $20 to $152. Discounts of up to $50 are available for combination tickets to both events. For pre-sale availability, visit Facebook.com/RFD-TVTheAmerican. Tickets are available at the AT&T Stadium Box Office and Ticketmaster.com or by phone at (800) 745-3000. More details are available at americanrodeo.com.