Wyatt Denny has golden payday in Salt Lake
Wyatt Denny remembers days from his youth when he was a ski racer and stepped up on podiums to receive medals.
Ah, but none of those ever came with a $50,000 paycheck like the Minden cowboy received this past week for his gold medal performance in bareback riding at the inaugural Days of ’47 Rodeo in Salt Lake City.
Denny, 21, posted a score of 88 aboard Diamond G Rodeo’s Diamond Hope to win at the Utah State Fairpark and the first public event at its new venue, the Days of ‘47 Arena. Tim O’Connell, the reigning PRCA bareback champion, finished second with an 87.5 and Tanner Phipps was third with an 86.5.
Each event showcased eight competitors on the final night, and the top three were awarded with the gold, silver and bronze medals. Gold medal winners took home $50,000 in cash, $25,000 for silver and $12,000 for bronze.
For Denny, it was the largest single day paycheck of his young career and enabled him to vault into second-place in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) bareback standings. He now has earned $95,943 for the season and trails only O’Connell, who has $150,895.80 in winnings.
Monday’s Olympic-style awards ceremony was different from other rodeos he has been to. Denny did acknowledge it brought back those memories of winning medals at alpine ski races.
Afterward, he was asked in a Days of ’47 Rodeo video interview how it felt to win a gold medal in the event’s first year.
“First of its kind … you know, it’s awesome,” Denny said. “It’s almost a bit of history. They just started this rodeo and I’m the first one to win it, so that feels pretty special to me.”
Furthermore, Denny is virtually assured of a return trip to the National Finals Rodeo this December in Las Vegas. He qualified with his top-15 PRCA finish in 2015-16.
Denny only scored a 74 on his first ride of the night, however, he was awarded a re-ride and came back not more than five minutes later and scored that 88.
The rodeo offered a unique format in which eight finalists were determined by four semifinal rounds on July 19-22. The top two in each performance advanced.
Denny had a close call in the third performance when he posted an 82 on Flying Five Rodeo’s Black Mary to finish in a second-place tie with his traveling partner, Clayton Biglow of Clements, Calif. Denny advanced on a tie-breaker.
And, at the end of his video interview Monday night, Denny was asked what he plans to do with his prize money.
“In my bank account for another rodeo down the road,” he said, laughing.
Then, after pausing for a moment, he continued … “I don’t know … maybe a jet ski. I want a jet ski.”