Resistol bull rider knows the opportunities await him in early March
The giddiness in Clayton Sellars’ voice was just proof of his readiness to compete at The American to kick off his March.
Sellars, a Resistol cowboy from Wildwood, Florida, rides bulls for a living, and he did well enough in 2021 to be invited as one of the top 10 cowboys in rodeo to compete at the unique event that will take place in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
He will kick-start his weekend by competing in the 16-man field Friday, March 4, at Cowtown Coliseum at the popular Fort Worth Stockyards. He hopes to advance to the final performance, set for Sunday, March 6, at AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys. The winners of each event will walk away with at least $100,000.
“The American jacks up the stakes, and it takes the sport of rodeo to another level,” said Sellars, 23, a three-time National Finals Rodeo qualifier. “Being cowboys, that amount of money can change most of our lives.”
That weekend, the field will also include six contestants in each event that advanced through a series of qualifier events, including a week-long competition that leads up to Friday night’s showcase in Fort Worth. Qualifiers are eligible for the side pot, which is typically $1 million. If a qualifier wins The American on Sunday, that person will earn at least a share of the side pot.
Only one time has a qualifier earned the entire pot, and that came in The American’s inaugural year in 2014. Since then, the side pot has been split among multiple qualifiers. In 2017, bull rider Sage Kimzey earned one-third of the side pot; along with the $100,000 first-place prize, he, bronc rider Cody DeMoss and barrel racer Hailey Kinsel each pocketed $333,333.
Since no qualifier won in 2021, that money rolled over, and the side pot is up to $2 million this year.
“It’s unfortunate for guys like me that you only have a shot at $100,000, but it can still be a big deal,” Sellars said. “That kind of money can set some guys up for a year, maybe two years if you do things right.
“Riding at AT&T Stadium is going to be pretty cool. I think it’s really neat to get to play on the same turf as the Dallas Cowboys.”
As exciting as everything is for the young bull rider, he still loves that there are a few dozen cowboys and cowgirls who have a shot at some incredible money.
“With $2 million on the line, for most high-level athletes, it’s not going to change a whole lot about what they do as far as competition,” he said. “For the ones trying to win that kind of money, it’s going to add that extra dog effort, that extra couple of seconds of hanging on. That’s such life-changing money, especially for young guys that haven’t been up to the top levels. It’s going to bring the most try out of them.
“You’re going to see the best of every competitor at The American.”
Sellars is just one Resistol bull rider in the mix. He will be joined by:
STETSON WRIGHT, 22, Milford, Utah: Wright is the reigning three-time all-around world champion who finished third in the bull riding world standings in 2021. He posted the highest-marked ride at the 2021 NFR, a 94.5-point ride in the fourth go-round. He also placed in four rounds, including wins on Nights 5 and 7. He finished fourth in the NFR average and pocketed just shy of $140,000 in bull riding alone. He also competed at the NFR in saddle bronc riding, where he won the world title. He finished the season with $686,513, with more than $100,000 coming in Xtreme Bulls. The 2020 bull riding world champion won his first all-around world title in 2019, the same year he won the Resistol Rookie of the Year awards in the all-around, saddle bronc riding and bull riding.
KY HAMILTON, 22, Mackay, Queensland, Australia: At his second straight NFR, Hamilton kicked off the 10-day championship with an 87.5-point ride to share the first-round win with bull riding veteran J.B. Mauney. Hamilton also placed in two other go-rounds and finished eighth in the 10-ride aggregate. In all, the Aussie pocketed more than $76,000 in Las Vegas and finished eighth in the world standings. The year before, he earned more than $112,000 at the NFR and placed fourth in the world standings.