Prelims of world’s richest one-day rodeo start Wednesday in Fort Worth
This is no stock show. In fact, it’s not a typical rodeo at all. The preliminary leg of RFD-TV’s $2 million event, THE AMERICAN, presented by Polaris RANGER, returns to Fort Worth’s Cowtown Coliseum on Feb. 17-18 with timed-event competition, and with performances on Feb. 19-20 at 7 p.m. and Feb. 21 at 2 p.m.
The annual half-million-dollar American Semi-Finals will showcase more than 500 of America’s top ropers and riders as they battle for fewer than 50 slots in The AMERICAN, held one week later inside AT&T Stadium. There, on Feb. 28, the Cowtown winners won’t just compete for shares of a $1 million purse, but also for a $1 million bonus available to whomever can defeat the top 10 athletes in the world.
A competitor at the inaugural Semi-Finals in 2014, collegiate bareback rider Richmond Champion, became rodeo’s first instant millionaire following an eight-second ride in the home of the Dallas Cowboys. He earned $1.1 million – all because of the rodeo in Cowtown.
“To me, the Semi-Finals is so exciting to watch not only because of its own status as one of the top-10 richest rodeos in the world, but also because millions more dollars are at stake for each contestant,” said Randy Bernard, CEO of RFD-TV Events. “And the diversity at Cowtown Coliseum is unequaled. Fans get to watch performances by everyone from NFR qualifiers with dozens of world titles to phenomenal young kids to retired celebrities.”
During the Semi-Finals last year, the Stockyards fielded athletes of all ages and genders from 36 states, four Canadian provinces, Australia and Brazil. In fact, a 9-year-old cowgirl from Stephenville banked $44,279 and was then featured by ESPN SportsCenter, USA Today, and the Wall Street Journal as she tried to earn $1 million.
“There’s just no other way to win that much money at one event that’s open to the world,” said her father, Casey Chamberlain. “It’s by far the best thing that ever happened to rodeo, in my opinion.”
In addition, the event will feature a new American freestyle bullfighting contest. Each man is judged for 60 seconds while he tries to avoid an aggressive bull using extreme athleticism.
American Semi-Finals tickets are available for $40 apiece, or a $100 pass for all three weekend performances. To buy tickets, call Cowtown Coliseum at 888-Cowtown (269-8696) or visit AmericanRodeo.com.
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