Meet the 2020 NFR Athletes - Chad Rutherford



Chad Rutherford’s story may be the most inspiring of the 2020 season. Rutherford qualified for his first career NFR, but it didn’t come without hardships.

Rutherford was close to walking away from his rodeo career after being severely injured in 2017. Shortly following the injury, his wife left him, and his life began to spiral.

It was the lowest point of his life, and without a clue what he was going to do next, he met his now-wife Katie. He credits her for saving his life and his rodeo career.

Rutherford qualified for his first NFR in dramatic fashion. It came down to the Gold Buckle Knockout in Stoneham, Colorado.

Rutherford entered the event less than $100 in front of 16th placed Winn Ratliff. An 88.0 Point ride in the first round of the Knockout would seal his NFR Qualification.


After the event, Rutherford was speechless after realizing a lifelong dream.

“My wife has been telling me all year, 2020. It’s a long year and it came down to the last day and I am so thankful,” Rutherford told CowboyChannel’s, Janie Johnson.

Rutherford also won the Mesquite Championship Rodeo in June and took the top spot in the Cody Stampede, which earned him more than $5,800.

While Rutherford will not be in contention for a Gold Buckle in 2020 he will almost certainly improve on his best year from an earnings standpoint.

The year of his accident, Rutherford earned over $50,000 and was well on his way to an NFR qualification. This season, with the qualification secured, Rutherford currently has earned $37,412.

Watching Rutherford compete at the NFR will be watching someone’s life change before your eyes and he has a chance to make major moves in the overall standings.

Leighton Berry, who sits in 10th place is under $18,000 ahead of Rutherford.


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