As part of the rodeo participants NIRA membership, competitors are automatically entered into the drawing.
It’s a random drawing, where all the names are put into a hat with one winner being picked out each year.
This year, the lucky winner of the truck (which they get to keep forever) is AJ Kee from Missouri.
The NIRA RAM Truck Winner is given the truck at the CNFR (College National Finals Rodeo) in Casper, WY.
We caught up with AJ to find out how he feels about being the NIRA RAM Truck Winner!
Tell us about when you got the phone call to say you had won a brand new RAM Truck?
“Well, I was at my rodeo team banquet at my school and my coach that morning was like ‘Hey did you get a phone call from anybody’ and I’m like well I ain’t checked my phone yet.
He’s like ‘oh alright well hey, congratulations’ and I’m like uh…thanks.
Then after the banquet, he came up to me again and asked if I’d got a phone call/voicemail.
No I ain’t checked my phone again yet, I said.
He told me to go check my phone. I checked my phone and I had a voicemail from Roger [Walters- NIRA Commissioner] to call him back.
Coach said I needed to call him back, it’s some pretty cool news.
I’m thinking did everyone draw out of the CNFR, do I win or something?
Coach said, ‘No it’s not that, but you’ll like it.’
All the coaches in the region had known that I’d won the truck way before I knew.
I called him back and Roger is like, ‘How are you today?’ and I’m like ‘Oh I’m doin’ just fine’ and he says, ‘Well…you’re about to have the best day of your life, you just won a brand new RAM Truck.‘
I said, this has to be a sick joke, who are you, this isn’t cool man, I have a pretty crappy car.
Roger replied, ‘No I’m serious, go ask your coach.’
I went back in there, the entire rodeo team was gathered and I had the biggest grin on my face. The coach had told them what I’d just won.
I still didn’t believe it. So I called here [Fremont Motors] and they’re like ‘YEAH you won a truck!’
I called my parents and my parents didn’t believe it. It took my dad 3 hrs to call the dealership and confirm it. Pretty cool.”
What do you currently drive?
“Right now nothing because I sold my car. But I was driving a 2008 Jeep Patriot.
When I got the Jeep Patriot, I took it down my buddies road back home in Missouri. Nicked the oil pan, blew the motor, ended up throwing a new motor in it with lesser miles. It didn’t even have cruise control, basic as basic gets.”
Which school do you attend and what is your major?
“Mesalands Community College down in Tucumcari and Farrier Science.”
What rodeo event do you compete in and how do you stay disciplined?
“Bareback. Working out a lot, being positive about everything. A positive mind especially with bucking horses is very important.
My coach tells me all the time, ‘You know, every other rodeo event you can have fun… not bareback riding.’
Just the physical aspect of it, it’s like getting in a boxing match with somebody, it’s intense.
It takes everything you have to offer just to stay on the horse.
It’s so fundamentally important to be mentally strong getting on these horses. If you get on thinking you’re goin’ to get bucked off, you’re getting bucked off. “
How did you get into rodeo, and why did you choose bareback riding?
“My dad used to rodeo a long time ago, he retired, then he came out of retirement. He started out riding buckin’ horses, well, then he destroyed his shoulder and started fighting bulls and rodeo clowning, and I decided I was like hey, maybe I’ll pick it up and try it out. I did that for four years on a family rodeo circuit level then got offered a scholarship to come to school for it.
Just happened to be a cowboy school, it’s like horseshoeing, western arts, silver-smithing buckles, spurs, its a really cool school.”
What will you use your new truck for?
“Probably shoeing horses, it’ll be a good rig to shoe horses in. Travel, take it to rodeos and show it off. College rodeos for sure, I’ve got another year left of college rodeo.
I’d imagine people are gonna’ want me to drive it in their arena and stuff, so it’ll be pretty cool.
Sleeping in the back of it!” says AJ.
Congratulations AJ, for being this years NIRA RAM Truck Winner, enjoy your truck!