The Big Show
RFD-TV’s The American recognizes the momentum behind recreational team roping in a monumental way, and in 2019 will welcome six #10 teams gunning for at least $100,000 in payout at RFD-TV’s $2-million-rodeo in AT&T Stadium.

The World Series of Team Roping pays out nearly $42 million to team ropers annually, and $8 million of that comes from the #10—a division made up of ropers from all walks of life, from ranchers to construction workers to school teachers and beyond. That’s why, when RFD-TV’s The American’s Randy Bernard came to his long-time friend and World Series of Team Roping president Denny Gentry with hopes of adding recreational team ropers to his mix of talent at The American March 2-3, 2019, Gentry offered up the #10 as the first division to highlight in the tournament-style format. The result: The American Cowboy #10.

“The #10 is the honey spot in the team roping world. The handicaps of the ropers who compete in this group represent more than half of the total team ropers who exist,” Gentry said. “From a demographic standpoint, this division will give us our best opportunity for success. The #10 at the Finale is always the largest single payout of the year, and has held the record as long as we have been holding the event. It has paid over $2 million each of the last five years.”

Bernard’s goal was to tap into the depth of the team roping market, using the World Series of Team Roping’s and USTRC’s loyal following to build momentum at a new level for The American. At the same time, Gentry had been looking for a launching pad for a one-time-entry-fee hybrid tournament format. The pairing just made sense.

“The American should be a bridge to grow all Western lifestyle and all Western industry,” Bernard said. “Our goal is to make dreams come true and it’s what we believe we can do. We wanted to take it down to other levels. I told Denny what my vision is. The American is about huge payout and doing it on a platform where people would never have the opportunity to compete. These teams might never go to the NFR. But we can bring them in, and let them compete for a lot of money.”

The World Series of Team Roping will use RFD-TV’s The American as a catalyst for the concept that is expected to develop into a three-division program for the WSTR in the next few years. While RFD-TV’s American will pay each rodeo event $190,000 in 2019, the World Series has guaranteed a minimum $100,000 purse for The American Cowboy #10, but Gentry says that in reality the 2019 target would be at least $500,000.

“If the planning goes right and ropers support this concept, qualification payoffs should be roughly $200,000 and $400,000 to the aggregate winners,” Gentry said. “I can conceivably see purse checks for everyone advancing past the matches, with big money going to the front six.”

An added bonus? Winners of the American Cowboy #10 qualifiers also get a qualification spot into the #10 World Series of Team Roping Finale and discounted fees at the Cinch National Finals of Team Roping.

Rappel’s Arena in Gill, Colorado, hosted the first American Cowboy #10 qualifier June 18, with long-time friends and equine dentists Frankie Hough, of Grand Junction, Colorado, and Doug Jergens, of Gill, winning the inaugural event. Hough made the five-hour trek across the Continental Divide for his chance at the American.

“I was there, and it was worth a shot,” Hough said. “For a weekend-warrior-type, to rope for that kind of money is unbelievable.”

Meanwhile, Jergens rode a few hundred feet down the road to Beau Rappel’s arena for the qualifier.

“When I heard it on RFD-TV, and they were explaining the whole deal, who wouldn’t want a chance to rope down there?” Jergens said. “I didn’t know the whole set-up, and now I know you just have to beat two or three teams to get to Dallas. I like the odds, and I like watching The American every year on TV. I’m excited just to rope!”

Winners of the American Cowboy #10 are eligible for The American’s all-around buckle, too, which opens the door for competitors from all other rodeo disciplines to try their hand at a #10 qualification spot, too, Bernard said. American Cowboy #10 winners will also receive a full American prizeline, including the Cactus trophy saddles and iconic American trophy buckles.

Bernard and Gentry agreed to do the event for one year, but both men are confident that the relationship will grow.

“We did it for a year—but a handshake is all we need,” Bernard said. “All we’re trying to do is grow the sport. We want to see what happens. If it’s as big as a lot of them think it’s going to be, it will be a win-win for everybody.”


Two entries will be allowed at The American Cowboy qualifiers, 4-steer aggregate, $200/roper. Although teams are allowed to enter twice at the qualifier, individuals may NOT be qualified for The American more than once. Ropers may enter the qualifiers as often as they like until they get a qualification position.

There will be no additional entry fees after ropers qualify.

The #10 roping will be capped at a 6 heeler, 21 and older.

In an instance where one member of a team receives a handicap increase, each partner may get a replacement partner, but a match must occur between the two new teams that will result in one team remaining.

If a heeler’s handicap increases and exceeds 6, that roper is eliminated, and the remaining partner may find a replacement.

Qualification ropings must have a minimum of 20 teams competing to produce a qualified team. Any roping with less than 20 teams will cancel and fees refunded to ropers on the spot.

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