Ben Johnson Memorial Award
Growing up in California, Cotton Rosser always wanted to be a rodeo cowboy. He studied animal science at California Polytechnic, competing on the rodeo team. In 1950, Rosser won the intercollegiate all-around and the saddle bronc championships. He and his teammates won 41 national collegiate championships. His rodeo career was cut short when he suffered a debilitating ranch accident.
Rosser partnered with Dick Pascoe to purchase the Flying U Rodeo Company in 1955, the first stock contracting company to offer a comprehensive rodeo package that included promotional consultants, contract acts and noteworthy bucking stock. In 1960, Rosser merged with Ed Rutherford and Lex Connolly to form the Golden State Rodeo Company. In the 1970s, the Flying U resurfaced and Rosser assumed all operations. He started the “born to buck” breeding program that has produced many champions over the past few decades.
Always a showman, Rosser worked to keep rodeo entertainment colorful with flamboyant, patriotic presentations. He brought high school rodeo to California and helped organize many state high school organizations. Rosser has been honored as the “Most Colorful Man In Rodeo” by the PRCA, named Stock Contractor of the Year and inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame.
Rosser is a true rodeo visionary who has contributed to the development of rodeo as a professional sport, business and family entertainment.