Champion ready for his return

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Bareback rider missed Gooding Pro Rodeo in 2022; he’s eager to get back

Montana bareback rider Richmond Champion had to miss much of the 2022 ProRodeo season because of an injury, but he’s back in action and eager to return to the Gooding Pro Rodeo.

GOODING, Idaho – Over the last decade that he’s ridden bucking horses for a living, Richmond Champion has only missed the Gooding Pro Rodeo a couple of times.

One was last year, when a neck injury sidelined the bareback rider from much of the 2022 season. He missed the National Finals Rodeo for just the second time since his breakout season in 2014, and he had to skip some rodeos he doesn’t like to miss. One of those was in Gooding County, Idaho.

He plans to return to the Gooding Pro Rodeo, set for Thursday, Aug. 17-Saturday, Aug. 19, with a special “Beauty and the Beast” performance set for Wednesday, Aug. 16. All performances take place at 8 p.m. at Andy James Arena. Tickets are on sale now at

“I don’t know if there’s a word to describe that rodeo,” said Champion, a seven-time NFR qualifier from Stevensville, Montana. “I’ve been going there for 12 years now. It’s always one of my favorites. It’s not Calgary. It’s not Cheyenne.

“It’s Gooding, and it’s perfect. It’s got the ‘Beer Worthy.’ There’s not a guy coming up that’s not excited about going to Gooding and try to ride good enough that the crowd wants to give him a beer when he gets done.”

The “Beer Worthy” section is just one aspect of the unique crowd that makes the professional rodeo so special. There’s much more to it than the ladies lining up the brews a few yards from the timed-event chute; it’s an entertaining group of folks who come to the rodeo to be entertained.

“They pack it out every night, and that crowd is really into it,” Champion said. “They have a dance afterwards. You want to go park your rig there for the weekend, turnout of every other rodeo and just stay in Gooding.”

The Texas-raised bareback rider has been one of the best in the business for the past nine seasons. During his third campaign in ProRodeo, he set the rodeo world on fire by winning the bareback riding title at the inaugural The American, an event that features a $2 million purse; half that going to winner or winners that had earned their spot in the championship through a series of qualifying events.

Champion was the lone qualifier win his event in 2014, therefore earning $1 million by the time the day came to an end. He followed that up with a series of victories, including titles at big rodeos in Spanish Fork, Utah; Cheyenne, Wyoming; and Dodge City, Kansas. He is a two-time titlist at the Calgary Stampede, one of the richest rodeos in the world. He earned $100,000 each in 2017 and 2018.

Over his career, Champion has earned around $3 million. He’s won NFR go-rounds and has been crowned the titlist at some of the biggest rodeos across North America. He’s never claimed the championship in Gooding, though, and he’d like to change that.

“The timing of that rodeo is great,” he said. “It’s right there with Caldwell and Burley (Idaho) and all those other rodeos going on. In all reality, it’s the staple of that week. You want to get there; you want to do it at the end of the week there preferably because then you can just hang out in Gooding.

“You have to talk about the horses and the money. It’s a great opportunity for a guy that time of year on the bubble (to make the NFR) or someone just wanting to add some money to his pocket. That’s what it’s there for.”


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