College cash

Only in Texas: The $50,000 Steer

Only in Texas: The $50,000 Steer

Austin Photo: News_Kevin_Grand Champion Steer auction_march 2012_reserve steer
The Reserve Grand Champion steer, Carl, outside the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum. Photo by Kevin Benz
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The Rodeo Austin auctioneers. Photo by Kevin Benz
Austin Photo: News_Kevin_Grand Champion Steer auction_march 2012_Mike McCarty and Shayla Edwards
17-year-old Shaylan Edwards (l) is congratulated by Mike McCarty. McCarty bought Edwards Grand Champion steer for $50,000. Photo by Kevin Benz
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The buyers table. Photo by Kevin Benz
Austin Photo: News_Kevin_Grand Champion Steer auction_march 2012_Mike McCarty bidder
Mike McCarty contemplates making another bid on the Grand Champion steer. He did, and he won it, for $50,000. Photo by Kevin Benz
Austin Photo: News_Kevin_Grand Champion Steer auction_march 2012_Shayla Edwards winner
The auctioneer introduces Shaylan Edwards to the crowd of bidders. Edwards sold her Grand Champion steer at auction for $50,000. She'll take home $25,000, the rest goes back into the auction pool for other kids selling their animals. Photo by Kevin Benz
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The 2012 Grand Champion steer, Chuy, was an attraction outside the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum. Photo by Kevin Benz
Austin Photo: News_Kevin_Grand Champion steer auction_March 2011_reserve hog
11-yearold Kaleigh Meador of Bushland, Texas says goodbye to her Reserve Grand Champion Barrow, Pappa Smurf, outside Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum. Photo by Kevin Benz
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The Star of Texas Fair and Rodeo Youth Auction held inside the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum. Photo by Kevin Benz
Austin Photo: News_Kevin_Grand Champion Steer auction_march 2012_reserve steer
Austin Photo: News_Kevin_Grand Champion Steer auction_march 2012_auctioneers
Austin Photo: News_Kevin_Grand Champion Steer auction_march 2012_Mike McCarty and Shayla Edwards
Austin Photo: News_Kevin_Grand Champion Steer auction_march 2012_buyers
Austin Photo: News_Kevin_Grand Champion Steer auction_march 2012_Mike McCarty bidder
Austin Photo: News_Kevin_Grand Champion Steer auction_march 2012_Shayla Edwards winner
Austin Photo: News_Kevin_Grand Champion Steer auction_march 2012_champion steer
Austin Photo: News_Kevin_Grand Champion steer auction_March 2011_reserve hog
Austin Photo: News_Kevin_Grand Champion Steer auction_march 2012_bullock museum

Everyone should spend a couple of hours at a cattle auction. The energy of the auctioneer, the simplicity and dedication of the ranchers, and the grandeur of the animals give you an appreciation for the hard work that goes into putting a steak on the plate or a burger in the bag.

The Star of Texas Grand Champion Steer Auction is nothing like that. The bidders wear suits, the animals have been bathed, the cocktails flow and the money flows right along with them.

This auction is the highlight of the Rodeo Austin fundraising efforts. Each year hundreds of thousands of dollars come out of the pockets of bidders and go into the college funds of young students. The animals, clean as they are, have little to do with it all — this is for the kids.

 "God has blessed me with the ability to do this for these kids, the idea is to put them through school." 

This year the Grand Champion Steer brought $50,000 at the auction. That means his 17-year-old owner, Shaylan Edwards, a junior at Burnet High School and Burnet High's "Barney the Bulldog," mascot will take home a check for $25,000. That's the cap on proceeds for the Grand Champion Steer's owner; the rest goes into the auction fund for the sellers of other lower priced animals. 

Mike McCarty, the founder of McCarty Corp., a defense construction contractor, bought Chuy (that's the steer's name). The steer is now McCarty's seventh Grand Champion. He's spent over $400,000 on Grand Champion steers. "It's a treat and a hoot for me. It's supporting kids who work all year with these animals. God has blessed me with the ability to do this for these kids, the idea is to put them through school."

Edwards says she'll be putting her check into her college fund, like so many other kids today.

Obviously not every animal is a Grand Champion, but every kid has that potential. Today hundreds of animals — rabbits, chickens, turkeys, lambs, goats, hogs and steers — and a selection of award winning western art produced by students hit the auction block with an average winning bid of over $1,000. Last year Rodeo Austin raised over $800,000 at this auction. All of it goes directly to kids from across the state of Texas, and the Rodeo hopes to do about the same this year.