The only thing Peg and Jim Williams love more than roping is each other. The 58-year-old married champs of this year’s Reno Million’s life revolves around their favorite pasttime, which boosted their household’s bottom line by a hefty $200,000 when they won the 21st annual No. 11 roping—formerly the Reno Rodeo Invitational— on June 20.
The only thing Peg and Jim Williams love more than roping is each other. The 58-year-old married champs of this year’s Reno Million live a life that revolves around their favorite pastime, which boosted their household’s bottom line by a hefty $200,000 when they won the 21st annual No. 11 roping— formerly the Reno Rodeo Invitational—on June 20. By Kendra Santos
“When we first started roping we were thrilled if we won enough to pay our fees and buy dinner,” the Williamses said in unison. “We’re still amazed at what Denny Gentry has done for amateur team ropers. To be able to win this kind of money and prizes for catching four steers is unbelievable to us.”
Their 38.54 seconds on four head, which bested this year’s 136-team field, finished 2.44 seconds ahead of reservists Marti Anderson and Roy Owens, whose 40.98 on four paid them $56,000. Riding into the short round seventh high call, the Williamses said winning the whole shootin’ match never really crossed their minds.
“I sure didn’t think we would win it,” Peg said as she stepped into the winner’s circle. “I was hoping we would place in the top five. I honestly didn’t think we had a chance to win it. We were going to go make our run, and then let everybody else do their thing and see how it all ended up. When I go into a short round, I always just want to be first in the average after we rope. So going in seventh, I just wanted to be first when we rode out of the arena. I want to take over the lead of the roping, then it’s on everybody else’s shoulders to beat me.”
Nobody did. One thing after another took out all six teams that followed them. The Williamses’ previous biggest paycheck was a $76,000 model from the 2014 World Series of Team Roping Finale in Las Vegas. But the money wasn’t the sweetest part of their win at the Reno Million. The cash was trumped by self-satisfaction.
“Watching two feet go in the loop was the best part,” Jim grinned. “That’s it for me.”
Mr. and Mrs. Williams are both 58, and South Dakota natives. She’s originally from right around Rapid City, and he’s from the south central part of the state, down by the Oglala Sioux Reservation. They got married in 1981. That’s when lifelong roper Jim—who’s a No. 6 heeler—introduced Peg—now a No. 4 Elite header—to the roping bug. She’d previously competed in the other women’s rodeo events, including goat tying, pole bending and barrel racing. But it was Jim who got his wife hooked on team roping. It wasn’t that big a stretch, of course, based on the fact that, “I love horses,” Peg said.
South Dakota winters can make year-round roping difficult, if not impossible at times. The Williamses are so passionate about their pastime that they moved their literal dog and pony show— the family currently consists of their main mounts, Cowboy and Indian, a couple practice horses and their blue heeler, Tater—to Kingman, Ariz., in 1988 so they could rope year-round. Tater,