Champion Steer Named Vanilla Ice Sells for a Cool $1 Million at Houston Rodeo

by Taylor Cunningham
Champion Steer Named Vanilla Ice Sells for a Cool $1 Million at Houston Rodeo

A Grand Champion steer at this year’s Houston Rodeo broke records this week after selling for an astonishing $1 million dollars.

The impressive bovine named Vanilla Ice caught the eye of former rodeo chairman and president Don D. Jordan after it won the Junior Steer Market on Saturday. And his bid became the highest ever in auction history by overtaking the previous record of $625,000 set in 2019.

Both the show and Jordan turned 90 this year. So he wanted to celebrate the milestone in a big way.

“The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo and I were born in the same year, so we’ve spent a lot of birthdays together,” he told ABC News 8.

Jordan believes that his generous bid will set a precedent for future shows and convince more bidders to set new records in the coming years.

“I guarantee you that someone will beat it,” he continued. 

Don D. Jordon bought his first Houston Rodeo steer back in 1987, the year after he joined the Livestock Show’s executive committee. The purchase was also the reigning grand champion and he paid $75,000.

The Majority of Proceeds for the Grand Champion Livestock Show and Rodeo Steer Will Fund Educational Scholarship Recipients

A 16-year-old from Anson, Texas, named Aven Horn had the honor of selling the steer. But unfortunately, she won’t be able to pocket the entire million. The Houston Rodeo sets a cap on how much a contender can earn, which, in her case, is $85,000. And if a steer earns more, officials put it towards the rodeo’s scholarship program. 

“There are no words,” Horn said of the experience. “We have put in so much work over the past year and it has finally paid off. Winning Grand Champion Steer at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo means so much, words can’t even describe the quality of cattle that come here. To win here means everything.”

Horn was emotional about the sale—but not just over the money. Because Vanilla Ice is castrated, he’s bound for the slaughterhouse.

“[He]’s so loving and loves being petted on,” she said after the auction. “He’s a 1,300-pound animal, and he’s so gentle and would never do anything to hurt anyone. He was really, really sweet. He was good.”

The reserve champion steer also made history by bringing in $625,000. The previous record for a reserve champ was $367,000. which was also set in 2019. Tristan Himes of Sterling City, Texas, exhibited the animal. He will take home $45,000 of the winnings.

“These kids are what Houston is all about,” said Alan Kent, who bought Himes’ steer. “People just want to be able to give back.”