The American draws some of the best rodeo cowboys in the world. The event returns to AT&T Stadium in Arlington next February.
BY BRETT HOFFMAN
Special to the Star-Telegram
For the past two years, the RFD-TV’s The American has wowed rodeo fans at AT&T Stadium in Arlington by making it possible for a contestant to earn up to $1.1 million in one day.
The $1.1 million has been part the $2 million total purse, which has made The American the largest single-performance rodeo of all-time.
During the first edition in 2013, bareback rider Richmond Champion pocketed $1.1 million.
Champion was awarded the entire “$1 million side pot,” plus the $100,000 prize that is awarded to all event winners.
Last year, bareback rider Taylor Price and tie-down roper Reese Riemer split the $1 million. They each walked away with $600,000 in total earnings.
During the first two years of The American, the only competitors who were eligible for the $1 million side pot were those who earned a berth either through the qualifier system semifinals or by exemption, meaning they were a longtime legendary rider such as 11-time world barrel racing champion Charmayne James.
During the 2016 The American, scheduled for Feb. 28, three contestants who each won titles at the first two editions of The American will be added to the list of exempt competitors. They are barrel racer Lisa Lockhart, team roper Kaleb Driggers and saddle bronc rider Wade Sundell.
Each will be eligible to collect all or a share of the $1 million side pot, if they win a third consecutive title.
“They each have won it two years in a row, so we have created the RFD-TV American Triple Crown,” said RFD-TV chief executive officer Randy Bernard. “What that does is create an incredible amount of excitement right now on some of our great champions. It puts a lot of pressure on them. They know they are running for $1 million.”
By receiving exemption, Lockhart, Driggers and Sundell do not have to earn a berth like they’ve had to in the past. That was by finishing within the top 10 on the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association/Women’s Professional Rodeo Association circuit or by finishing within the top five during The American semifinals, a competition that is open to lower profile competitors.
The last two years, The American will be conducted on the same weekend as the Professional Bull Riders’ Iron Cowboy. The high-profile PBR show Feb. 27 features 40 of the sport’s elite.
Tickets for both The American and The Iron Cowboy start at $20 and go on sale Aug. 28.
For information, contact the AT&T Stadium Box Office and Ticketmaster.com or call 800-745-3000.