Road to $1 Million Bonus Updates: The American Contender Tournament Returns With Nationwide Schedule Of Qualifying Events

The American Contender Semifinals is back and better than ever in 2023-24. Here's what barrel racers need to know about the road to the $1,000,000 bonus.
Tamara Barnhart turns a barrel at The American Rodeo.
Tamara Barnhart and Guys Sweet Design topped The American Contender Finals on March 09. Image by RC Photography.

Courtesy Teton Ridge

ARLINGTON, Texas (June 13, 2023) – Teton Ridge, a multi-platform western lifestyle and entertainment company, announced that The American Contender Tournament will return for a second year, visiting cities nationwide throughout 2023 and hosting January 2024 Regional Semi-Finals and Finals in Las Vegas (Nevada), Oklahoma City (Oklahoma) and Lexington (Kentucky).

The American Contender Tournament West, Central and East Regional Semi-Finals attract qualifiers from both coasts as well as the Central United States to compete in the re-imagined tournament style format in hopes of making it all the way to The Crown Jewel of Rodeo™ – The American Rodeo 2024.

In 2023, more than 2,500 rodeo athletes competed across the country to vie for a chance at the $1 million bonus on the line if they made it to The American Rodeo, earning impressive money along the way. Guaranteed prize money is upwards of $540,000 for the Regional Semi-Finals and Finals. Further enhancing competitive opportunities for rodeo athletes, three lucrative American Contender Tournament Open Team Ropings will run concurrent with each of the American Contender Tournament Regional Semi-Finals events in January 2024.

“Winning at the West Regional Finals earlier this year helped me tremendously in my rodeo career and life,” said Bailey Bates, a Native American Breakaway athlete, who won in Heber City, Utah. “A lot of finances add up while on the road competing. Winning a big check goes a long way to help with finances while chasing dreams.”

About The American Rodeo

Acquired by Teton Ridge in late 2021, The American Rodeo, celebrating its 11th year in 2024, features competitors in all eight traditional rodeo disciplines – barrel racing, breakaway roping, steer wrestling, team roping, tie down roping, bareback riding, saddle bronc and bull riding.

The only major western sports event where professional athletes compete against the “joes and janes” – fans can follow along throughout The American Contender Tournament by rooting for the underdog “Contenders” chasing big winnings along the way and visiting the Teton Ridge Plus website for updates.

Chiropractor and horse trainer by day, single mother Idaho barrel racer Tamara Barnhart (Athol, Idaho) was one of those that threw her hat in the ring last year. Barnhart competed in the West Region Finals after qualifying on a whim  courtesy of a first-place finish at the 2023 All-In Barrel Race qualifying event in Las Vegas.

“The amount of recognition I received after competing amongst the best, within a first class production, was amazing,” said Barnhart. “Getting as far as I did in the tournament really boosted my horse’s popularity and I’ve had many people tell me how inspirational my experience and success has been. I was able to live a dream of mine, which was priceless.”

Just under 100 Event Qualifiers lead to automatic qualifications or points toward the Regional Semi-Finals in January 2024:

WEST – January 11-13 in Las Vegas, Nevada at South Point Arena & Equestrian Center

CENTRAL– January 18-20 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma at Jim Norick Arena

EAST– January 25-27 in Lexington, Kentucky at AllTech Arena

For more information on The American Contender Tournament, schedule of qualifying events and how to register as an athlete, please visit