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Tilden Hooper Wins the American Rodeo
with a 90.5 point ride on Frontier Rodeo's
ARLINGTON, Texas — Bareback rider Tilden Hooper's 2021 season earnings multiplied 10 times over when he won The American with a 90.5-point ride on Frontier Rodeo's Gun Fire at AT&T Stadium, March 7.
Hooper is a seven-time qualifier for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (2008-09, 2011, 2014, 2018-20) with 15 years of ProRodeo competition under his belt, but he hasn't won a gold buckle – yet.
That could change this season thanks to the $50,000 boost in the world standings he earned in Arlington, Texas, Sunday. Winning The American launched the Texas cowboy from 26th in the PRCA | RAM World Standings with $5,000 to No. 1 in the race for the world title.
Everyone who won The American last year went on to qualify for the 2020 NFR. While nothing is guaranteed, it's a safe bet that Hooper will be in the yellow chutes in December.
"$50,000 in the world standings this early is great and $100,000 for myself and my family is life-changing money and it's much appreciated, and we thank everyone involved for making this happen," said Hooper, 33. "Every time you win a big, prestigious rodeo like this it's really hard to describe, but it doesn't compare to anything and none of them ever do. It's one of the best feelings in my life and it's just awesome."
Hooper kicked off The American with an 86.25-point ride on The Cervi Brothers' Ain't No Angel on March 6 to advance to Sunday's eight-man semifinals.
Sunday started with a third-place 85.5-point ride on C5 Rodeo's Black Eye to advance to the four-man Shoot-Out with Tim O'Connell, Cole Reiner and Kaycee Feild.
"My first one (Black Eye) was a little bit touch and go," Hooper said. "I was really excited that they (the judges) liked it as much as they did. Bareback riding is a little out of control sometimes and when you're in the middle of fighting you have to keep swinging and try to land some punches."
Hooper knew he was in for a good ride when he drew Gun Fire for the Shoot-Out, having scored 89 points on her at Rodeo Corpus Christi (Texas) in 2017.
"She has only gotten better with age," Hooper said.
More recently, Clayton Biglow won his first San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo title Feb. 27 with a San Antonio record-tying ride of 93 points on Gun Fire.
Chad Rutherford also won the 2020 Cody (Wyo.) Stampede with a 90.5-point ride on Gun Fire and Caleb Bennett won Cody in 2019 with a 93.5-point ride on her, too.
"If they let us pick, that's the one we all would have picked and I knew I had to take advantage of that," Hooper said. "I've been on her before and she's awesome. She gets up in the air and gives you a chance to show off and my hat's off to Frontier Rodeo for raising her."
Hooper's ride was good for a $100,000 check.
"God puts opportunities in front of us and whenever he puts an opportunity in front of you like this, I feel like it's my job to advantage of it, and that's dang sure what I was trying to do," Hooper said. "The long-term effects of this are hopefully going to be huge. I'd like to parlay this into a gold buckle, and as far as money I would like to get something started for my eight-week-old son. $100,000 in one day is life-changing money and there's not a lot of places where you can do that.
Hooper wasn't sure specifically what he would spend the $100,000 on, but he knew it would involve his newborn son.
"At the rate he's using those diapers it might just go toward that," Hooper laughed.
For full coverage of The American, check out the March 19 edition of ProRodeo Sports News.