The Tarleton State junior won the bareback at AT&T Stadium to earn $100,000 and took the $1 million bonus offered to a qualifier who won an event against the top 10 in the National Finals Rodeo or Professional Bull Riding World Finals.
"Words can't even express how I feel right now," Champion said. "What does a 21-year-old do with a million dollars? There will never be another poor day."
Champion, from The Woodlands, qualified for The American at a rodeo in Gillette, Wyo., in February, and won the semifinal event a week ago in Mesquite. He had an 84 to tie for third in the first round Sunday, then won the shoot out, scoring 90 points on Assault.
He then had to wait out five other events before he knew that none of the five other qualifiers had won after qualifying for the shoot out.
Champion said he knew he had the prize after barrel racing.
"Wade Sundell tapped me on the shoulder and said, 'You did it, buddy. You're a millionaire.'"
Sundell, from Boxholm, Iowa, was one of just two top finishers from the first round to go on and win. He took the saddle bronc competition with a 92 1/2-point ride.
Bull riding world champion J.B. Mauney of Mooresville, N.C., took the $100,000 prize with a ride of 90 1/2 points. He put The American's prize money in rodeo perspective.
"I've never made that much in one day," Mauney said.
How long did it take him to make a million?
"I'm not sure when I crossed that, but I know I wasn't 21. It took three or years, I guess," Mauney said.
Steer wrestling world champion Hunter Cure of Holiday won with a time of 3.75 seconds.
Pink-shirted Tyson Durfey, from Weatherford, won tie down roping at 3.75.
Kaleb Driggers of Stephenville and Patrick Smith of Lipan won in team roping at 4.38, and Lisa Lockhart of Oelrichs, S.D., topped the barrel racing field at 14.035.
"Maybe now my one son will think I have a real job," Oelrichs said.
Trevor Brazile of Decatur won the all-around championship. He placed second in tie down roping and competed in team roping.
The idea for The American was hatched by Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and Randy Bernard, CEO of Rural Media Group Inc. Jones was looking for a signature rodeo event at AT&T Stadium, and Bernard wanted high-profile programming for RFD-TV.