With $545,713 won at The American alone, Matt Reeves is already the winningest steer wrestler in American Rodeo history.

The two-time American champ—who split the $1 million contender bonus three ways with bareback riding GOAT Kaycee Feild and saddle bronc rider Cort Scheer for $433,333 apiece in 2018, and won another $100,000 as an American qualifier in 2020—knows how to come through in the clutch at the world’s richest one-day rodeo. And at 45, this eight-time National Finals Rodeo bulldogger will back in the box Saturday night at Globe Life Field with another shot at that cool million.


“When they first talked to us cowboys about the concept of The American a year or two before the first one, I thought it was a pipe dream—almost too good to be true,” said Reeves, who lives in Cross Plains, Texas with his wife, Savanah, and sons, Carson and Hudson. “There was a lot of skepticism, and a lot of ideas that sound that good never come to fruition.”


Riley Duvall rode Reeves’ hazing horse Beamer to help Matt’s best friend, Hunter Cure, win the inaugural American in 2014. That same gritty bay mare helped two of this year’s steer wrestling contenders—two two-time American champs, no less, in Reeves and 2016 and ’19 American winner Ty Erickson—punch their tickets to Arlington this year by way of top-five finishes at The American Contender Tournament Finals in Abilene, Texas.


Beamer and Reeves hazed for Erickson at the Contender Finals, and Australian cowboy Kody Jang hazed for Reeves on Beamer. Erickson and Reeves delivered a one-two punch in Abilene riding Ty’s black ace bulldogging horse, Crush, who’ll have a third rider in qualifier JD Struxness on Saturday night. With Finding Meno, aka “Crush,” getting the call from nearly a third of the steer wrestling field, he’ll surely have a shot at the American Quarter Horse Association’s American Horse of the Day Award.


“Crush has been lights out lately,” Reeves said. “That’s an unbelievable horse with a lot of ability. He’s so simple in the box, he scores great and he can really run. He’s a very comfortable horse to ride.”


Sadly, a freak mishap in her stall on Wednesday has Beamer sitting The American out this year. Cajun cowboy Remey Parrott will step up to the plate and haze for 40% of the field on Saturday night—Reeves, Erickson, Struxness and reigning and five-time World Champion Steer Wrestler Tyler Waguespack.


“I’m excited about the opportunity to go back to The American and have another chance at that million,” Reeves said. “I think it’s a better chance than when I won it before, because there were 16 guys when I won it in 2018, and 15 in the field when I won it in 2020. With 10 guys there this year, the odds say it’s a better chance.


“I don’t want to rodeo full time anymore. But I do want to win when I go somewhere. I actually got to the short round in Oklahoma City (the Central Regional Finals that led him to the Contender Tournament Finals) out of the redemption round. Now here comes The American, and I’m excited about it. You have to hit your start and make your run in the 10 round. Then when you get to the final four, you have to grit your teeth and try ’em on.”


Reeves’ cheering section was crickets in the early going of The American.


“Zero members of my family were there to see me at the first American,” he said. “Not a single one. I gave my four tickets away. I had to get 22 tickets this time. That’s how life changes from when you rodeo all the time to when you don’t—and you’re old.”


How has that $545,713 impacted his life and career?


“The money I’ve won at The American has been unbelievable,” he said. “Having that much money in a lump sum to pay everything off and set ourselves up for retirement has been amazing and made a huge difference. A good retirement is hard to do from rodeo.”