Bulldogger Brown, bronc buster Hay win their events at American
ARLINGTON, Texas – A decade ago, Jesse Brown was a backup quarterback for the Washington State Cougars.
On Sunday afternoon, the Resistol cowboy scored a touchdown of his own by winning the steer wrestling title at The American, pocketing $100,000 for a job well done.
“This is definitely the right decision,” Brown, a two-time National Finals Rodeo qualifier from Baker City, Oregon, said of moving from the gridiron to the rodeo arena. “I wasn’t going to be making this (kind of money), and I like this sport a lot more.”
Brown was one of two Resistol cowboys to take home $100,000, joining saddle bronc rider Dawson Hay of Wildwood, Alberta, as winners of the unique rodeo that offered a $3 million payout in a single day. The son of bronc riding legend Rod Hay, he realizes he’s in rodeo at a good time. In his final year of competing at the NFR in 2010, Rod Hay earned just shy of $130,000 for the season.
“If there were rodeos like this in his time frame, he would have probably got it,” Dawson Hay said of his dad. “It’s amazing that we get to ride for this kind of money. Rodeo as a sport has been growing and growing and growing.
“It’s really cool to see these amazing committees bounce back after the last couple of years. It’s been a little rough on everyone. To see everyone get together and put together an event like this is amazing. I don’t think it’s really sunk in how awesome all this really is. I just feel really blessed to be here, to have my family here.”
The money is incredible. Only two rodeos a year pay out $100,000 to its winners: The American and the Calgary (Alberta) Stampede.
“It’s the most money I’ve won at one time,” Brown said. “It’s The American, in front of all those people in this stadium … it’s awesome. It’s Dallas Cowboys stadium, it’s Jerry’s World. It’s pretty electric, especially that four-man (round). That four-man was different than maybe any steer I’ve ever ran.”
With so much money on the line, all 90 contestants in the field had to deal with the pressure the comes from this kind of championship. The event began with 10 contestants in each event, and the top four times and scores advanced to the championship round. In the sudden-death format, the top time and score earned the $100,000 payday.
How do the contestants handle it?
“I try to clear my mind before I get on,” said Hay, a two-time NFR qualifier. “I notice I ride a lot better when I’m not too focuses on the big check.”
It worked, and he got the big check anyway.