North Queensland born and bred steer wrestler, Kodie Jang made a run at the RFD-TV The American at the end of February in hopes of grabbing an almighty payout.
The RFD-TV American Rodeo is the richest one-day rodeo in the entire world. The event was scheduled for Sunday, February 28 in Dallas Texas, where cowboys and cowgirls vied for a $1 million pay cheque.
Jang who originally hails from Ingham, got the chance to compete after entering a qualifier in Stigler, Oklahoma at the start of the year.
“I had a mate who asked if I could travel with him to the jackpot. I had no idea it was a qualifier for the American and I honestly entered in the event at the last minute,” said Jang with a laugh.
Once entered, Jang ran a slick run, pinning his steer in a timely fashion that enabled him to make it to the next round.
With the American, competitors have a few ways of getting an automatic invite depending on their final overall standings from the previous year’s rodeos; they can also qualify at a number of jackpots around the United States and work their way into the main event.
In the week leading up, Jang competed in the semi-finals and was able to make a quick run of 4.46 seconds to take him to the semi-shoot out round where they take the top five fastest times to the big event.
“I’ll be riding a horse called Roy, he’s owned by Matt Reeves and is my number one horse to bulldog off,” said Jang at the time. “It’s a little surreal to think that I am able to get this chance and how it happened. It’s really the definition of living the dream.”
He flew across to the US four years ago, accepting a scholarship with West Texas College, and he hasn’t looked back since.
“I arrived in the States with two hundred Australian dollars in my pocket and hoped I was making the right decision,” he said.
“I remember tossing up whether or not I wanted to leave home, my family and everything I knew. Mum helped me make that leap though.
“She told me not to wait for my ship to come in, it’s time to swim out and get it. She was right.”
As he looked at the possibility of entering the biggest rodeo in the world, to compete alongside living legends of the sport, Jang still steps onto his horse with that unique north Queensland style of rodeoing.
“Rodeo is a business here in the States, and I am learning how to make a living from being a rodeo athlete. It’s very different from back home,” he said.
“But the one thing I brought with me from home is what I learned on the ABCRA NQ rodeo circuit.
“That’s the importance of good sportsmanship and mateship.”
There are many differences between Australia and the USA rodeo circuits, however Jang said the rodeo family truly is worldwide and to be the first Australian to qualify for the semi-finals was something special.
“It doesn’t matter if I win or lose, I am truly thankful for this experience and it’s pretty cool that I am the first Aussie to qualify for my event in the semi-finals, and the second Aussie to qualify for any semi-finals for this once a year rodeo,” he said proudly.
Jang unfortunately did not make the final cut to The American; missing out by only one spot when he officially finished sixth in the cut off round of the semi-finals.
With that big rodeo done and dusted for the year, Jang said he would be hitting the rodeo road with his traveling buddies, aiming to climb the ladder of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association to get a top spot finish.