Tie-down roper Tuf Cooper of Decatur flipped a calf before wrapping him up during the American Rodeo qualifying at AT&T Stadium in Arlington in 2015. Dallas Morning News File Photo/Tom Fox
Two Texas calf ropers have been accused in a lawsuit of rigging what was billed as "the world's richest one-day rodeo" at AT&T Stadium last year.
The agribusiness television network RFD-TV filed the suit this week in Tarrant County. The defendants are Tuf Cooper, 26, a three-time world roping champion from Decatur, and Timber Moore, 30, the current top-ranked tie-down roper in the world. The suit accuses them of conspiring with a third roper by agreeing to lose to him so he could win the $1 million prize at the American Rodeo in March 2015. The three cowboys planned to split the cash, the suit said.
Neither Cooper, Moore nor the third roper, Reese Reimer, responded to messages seeking their comment.
RFD-TV, the sponsor of the American Rodeo, is seeking $100,000 in damages.
Cooper and Moore were invitees, and, thus, not eligible for the $1 million prize. Reimer, on the other hand, was a qualifier.
"It's pretty obvious," Shamoun said, laughing. "If you're playing tennis, and you're a novice with no chance of beating me, the professional, but we can all win more money by cutting a deal ... It's that simple."
The trio agreed to rig the competition, the attorney said, after advancing to the finals, where they and Oklahoman Cole Bailey would compete for the top prize.
According to Shamoun, Cooper and Moore also approached Bailey, but he turned them down and then told RFD-TV about the fix.
Reimer won the competition, earning a total of $517,000. (Two other qualifiers also won their events at the American Rodeo, so the side pot was split.) Cooper placed second, earning $25,000.
After Bailey told RFD-TV what had happened, Shamoun said, the network stopped payment on Reimer's winning check.
Reimer is not a defendant in the RFD-TV lawsuit. He has separately sued the network in Lubbock County for withholding his prize money.
"This should've been one of the most honorable and American sports in the country," said Gregory Shamoun, the attorney representing the network.
The rodeo offered $100,000 prizes to the winners of seven different competitions. However, "qualifiers," those who earned their spots by advancing through preliminary competitions rather than by invitation, were eligible to win an additional $1 million "side pot."