BREAKING: Caleb Smidt, Dona Kay Rule receive exemptions to RFD-TV’s The American

RFD-TV’s The American Rodeo presented by Durango Boots announced today two exemption invitees for this year’s competition. Tie-Down Roper Caleb Smidt and Barrel Racer Dona Kay Rule have both been invited to compete as exemption invitees in this year’s richest weekend in western sports March 6-7, 2021 at AT&T Stadium.

Due to an unfortunate turn of events last year and testing positive for COVID-19, both Smidt and Rule were sent home and unable to participate in the 2020 National Finals Rodeo (NFR) and interfered with the opportunity to be invited to compete at the 2021 American Rodeo.

“Just think how devastated you would be if you worked hard all year long to make it to the pinnacle of your sport to learn that you tested positive for COVID-19 and can’t compete,” said Randy Bernard, CEO of The American Rodeo. “We are very proud and honored to invite Caleb Smidt and Dona Kay Rule to compete at The American and have a chance to win a lot of money.”

Now, both Rule and Smidt have a choice to make. Either accept or not accept the exemption invitation to compete at RFD-TV’s The American Rodeo finals at AT&T Stadium. By accepting the exemption invitation, Rule and Smidt automatically advance to RFD-TV’s The American Rodeo at AT&T Stadium as an invitee, which means they are eligible for the $100,000, but not the million dollars. However, as an exemption invitee, any money earned at The American Rodeo finals, does not count towards the PRCA world standings.

By not accepting the exemption invitation, Rule and Smidt have the opportunity to take their chances and qualify for RFD-TV’s The American Rodeo through the American qualifier system. This means that both would have to first earn a spot as a qualifier, and then make their way through the Semi-Finals at Cowtown Coliseum to earn their spot to compete as a qualifier and be eligible for the million dollars at The American Rodeo at AT&T Stadium.

The American Rodeo is known as the world’s richest weekend in western sports due to its tremendous prize offering of $2.3 million. Qualifying events are held across the country, throughout the calendar year, as ropers and riders hope to compete and make it to The American Rodeo Semi-Finals and Finals in Texas.

Caleb Smidt is a 2X PRCA World Champion and is no stranger to The American Rodeo as a past champion in the 2019 tie-down roping.

Dona Ray Rule who qualified for the NFR this past year posted an emotional response when she learned she wouldn’t be able to compete. Rule competes on High Valor aka “Valor” and in 2020, won the AQHA / WPRA Barrel Horse of the Year. At age 62, Rule shows no signs of slowing down and is one of the oldest competitors in barrel racing.

Tune in to Road To The American on The Cowboy Channel and RFD-TV at 8pm ET Wednesday night to learn what Rule and Smidt decide – to accept or not accept an exemption invitation to the 2021 RFD-TV’s The American Rodeo.

The 11-day rodeo competition kicks off on February 25th in the Fort Worth Stockyards for slack and semi-finals and the finals take place over the weekend of March 6-7, 2021 at the Dallas Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX. The American Rodeo unites the top athletes in the world from the PRCA and pits them against underdogs who advance from The American Rodeo Semi-Finals, together to battle for the biggest single, life-changing paycheck of their lives. All events will be broadcast live on The Cowboy Channel and RFD-TV. Tickets for The American Rodeo at AT&T Stadium March 6-7, 2021 can be purchased at Standard ticket prices range from $20-$150, encompassing four pricing tiers for every level of rodeo fan. Due to current COVID-19 restrictions, only a limited number of tickets will be sold on a first-come, first-serve basis. Tickets will be sold in seating pods of 2, 4, or 6. Tickets to The American Rodeo Semi-Finals March 3-5, 2021 at Cowtown Coliseum in the Fort Worth Stockyards can be purchased at Standard ticket prices range from $25-$55.

For more information and a complete listing of all RFD-TV’s The American Rodeo presented by Durango Boots events in Fort Worth and Arlington, please visit


Ticket Information for RFD-TV’s The American

Shad Mayfield On How Winning RFD-TV’s The American Changed His Life

About RFD-TV’s The American

Past Champions of RFD-TV’s The American

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