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Three Team Roping World Champions Go Head-to-Head for a Chance to Compete in the World’s Richest One-Day Rodeo

Eight-time World Champion Speed Williams, Seven-time World Champion Jake Barnes and Seven-time World Champion Clay O’Brien Cooper have accepted a head-to-head team roping challenge.  They will compete at the Semifinals at Mesquite Arena this weekend for an exemption spot at RFD-TV’s THE AMERICAN, presented by Polaris RANGER, on March 2, 2014 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

The competitors will compete in a four-head match, two steers on Saturday and two steers on Sunday. Each competitor will pick their own partner however; the chosen partners will not be eligible for the million-dollar prize money if they win the exemption spot.

Williams began his professional career in team roping when he joined the PRCA in 1986. In 1988 he competed in his first NFR. Since then he has won eight consecutive world titles, 1997-2004 and qualified for the NFR a total of 15 times. In 2008 Williams became the 15th competitor to surpass $2 million in career earnings. After 23 years competing Speed announced his retirement in March of 2009. Along with competing in team roping he has produced instructional team roping DVDs for children and in 2010 he launched an online training center for team ropers of all levels.

“I’ve been a fan of the Dallas Cowboys and have attended games there and it would be an honor to rope there for THE AMERICAN,” said eight-time consecutive world champion Speed Williams. “It’s an exciting event because anyone can have a chance to compete with the top ten in the world. It brings a whole new element to the sport of rodeo and will be a great event for both fans and athletes.”

Barnes began his professional career in team roping when he joined the PRCA in 1980 and qualified for the NFR that same year. He was influenced in the sport by his dad who as amateur team roper and his uncle who was a world champion calf roper in the 40’s. Barnes has won a total of seven world titles and qualified for the NFR 25 times. In 1997 he was inducted into the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame and in 2006 he was honored with the inaugural Legends of ProRodeo Award given by the PRCA and Athletes in Action.

”I’m very excited to be competing at the Semifinals, it’s a true honor to be invited to be a part of team roping exemption for THE AMERICAN,” said seven-time world champion Jake Barnes. “To be able to win $1 million in one-day would be overwhelming. Athletes usually have to compete all year long in order to win that kind of money.” 

O’Brien Cooper began roping at the age of six in 1967 and joined the PRCA in 1979. He is a seven-time world champion and has qualified for the NFR 27 times. He finished 15th in the 2013 world standings. His accomplishments include, in 2007 he became the 10th rodeo competitor to surpass $2 million in career earnings and in 1997 Cooper was inducted into the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame. As well as being an accomplished roper Cooper has also had a successful acting career. He made his acting debut in the John Wayne film The Cowboys (1972) when he was 11 years old and continued to work in film and television through 1976. His other roles include roles in Gunsmoke, Little House on the Prairie, The Apple Dumpling Gang, Marcus Welby, M.D, Cahill U.S. Marshal and One Little Indian.

“It’s unique to have such a huge payout and to compete for that amount of money at a one-day rodeo event,” said seven-time world champion Clay O’Brien Cooper. “THE AMERICAN has a lot of rodeo fans excited for March 2 and it’s going to be great opportunity for athletes of all skill levels. 

The winner of the match up will be the 5th athlete chosen by THE AMERICAN’s sanctioning bodies as one of the limited exemptions. Most recently, a head-to-head match-up for the tie-down roping exemption spot was announced between Eight-time World Champion, Joe Beaver and Eight-time World Champion, Fred Whitfield at the Semifinals. In addition, Four-time World Champion Ote Berry was selected for the steer wrestling exemption. Eleven-time World Champion Charmayne James for barrel racing, Two-time PBR World Champion Justin McBride for bull riding and Seven-time World Champion, Dan Mortensen for saddle bronc.

“To have three of the most legendary team ropers in the country come together to compete for the exemption spot for THE AMERICAN is truly a testament to how western athletes want to be a part of this historic day.” said Randy Bernard, Rural Media Group CEO and president. “May the best team win and I’m looking forward to see them rope for the winning spot this weekend.”

THE AMERICAN will take place on March 2, 2014, at the home of the Dallas Cowboys, AT&T Stadium, in Arlington, Texas. With a $2 million payout, it will be the richest one-day rodeo in history. Of the qualifiers, the Top-five winners in each rodeo event at the semifinals will advance to compete in THE AMERICAN against the Top-10 in the World Standings and the PBR Built Ford Tough World Finals.

Tickets for THE AMERICAN semifinal being held in Mesquite, Texas, Feb. 21-23, are available for $14, $20 and $30, not including taxes. They can be purchased at the Mesquite Arena’s box office and at americanrodeo.com

Tickets for RFD-TV’s THE AMERICAN, presented by Polaris RANGER, and the Iron Cowboy V are on sale at the AT&T Stadium Box Office, all Ticketmaster locations and at americanrodeo.com.  Prices for each event range from $20 to $150, not including taxes.