Zeke Thurston – Big Valley, Alberta ($170,456)
3-time WNFR qualifier
2016 World Champion
‘Being a cowboy is not what Zeke Thurston does, it’s who he is.
Growing up on a ranch in Big Valley, Alberta and also helping with his grandparent’s place in Hyannis, Nebraska, taught him at an early age what it means to be a cowboy. Those skills have served him well in the rodeo arena too.
Last year, Zeke entered his second Wrangler National Finals Rodeo full of hope and reay to ride the best bucking horses in the world. That’s exactly what he did and he did it better than anyone else. He won the average and over $160,000 to earn his first gold buckle in 2016.
He enters this year’s NFR in second place with $170,456 in regular season earnings. He earned titles at 16 rodeos this year with six of those being in his native homeland. The one that didn’t count, but might be the most sentimental was when he won the $100,000 bonus at the Calgary Stampede in Alberta. He set a new record when he earned that championship for the third consecutive time.
Zeke is the middle child of three boys. Their father, Skeeter Thurston, is a six-time NFR qualifier. Their mother, Lynda, has done just about everything behind the scenes a person could do. When Zeke was a teenager, they added a sister, Tess, to the family who Zeke describes as one of the greatest gifts he has ever received.
Another of those gifts and his biggest fan is his wife of one year, Jayne. They grew up together, are best friends and got married a year ago in October. Canadian fans had their flags flying in the Thomas and Mack Center a year ago. With Zeke’s history in the famed yellow bucking chutes, they’ll have a lot to cheer for again this year.