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As hundreds of people across South Texas sat on the edges of their lawn chairs under the pavilion in a thunderstorm awaiting the announcement, JP Gonzales stood back and admired the support he had garnered over the past two months.
Moments later, when Trace Adkins, country music star and host of “The Ultimate Cowboy” television show, announced that Pearsall’s own horseman had lost the championship to Katey Jo Gordon, the crowd went wild.
In a community often plagued by political differences, that ‘good-ole-boy’ mentality still prevails when one of its own needs help.
Moments after the announcement, social media platforms along with cattle ranchers across the Wintergarden area came together in an effort to provide Gonzales with a set of cattle.
“This is not because JP wants this [the fundraising page] but because we all want to help him,” Wes Whitwell said of the Go Fund Me page set up for the local cowboy. “As fans and friends, it is just a simple way of giving back to this young man for representing the community, the region, the state and the Western way of life with such respect and honor.”
Gonzales repeatedly expressed his gratitude in an interview this week for the support he has received throughout the show and continues to receive from his community.
“It is all such a blessing,” he said, fighting his emotions. “I did my best; I put everything I had into the show and I deserved to win. But she had their attention more than I did, I guess.”
Gonzales does not stand alone in his position.
Cattle owner and banker Jim Gates said he was impressed by the way Gonzales represented himself and did not want the cowboy to walk away empty-handed, so he wasted no time in organizing a campaign, “Buy JP a Cow.”
“When JP was asked about why he was a cowboy, that line he said about, ‘having dignity and show respect to others, be humble, do your work as hard as you can and show a lot of grit,’ it would have taken me a minute or two to come up with something not even as half as good as that,” Gates said. “I know that if that would have been a man standing next to him for the final two, JP would have won, hands down.”
On his way out the door to train horses, Gonzales took time to say he had no hard feelings for Katey Jo but he chuckled and said, “I just do not feel she out-cowboys me.”
Despite the outcome of the reality television show, the South Texas cowboy has not forgotten his roots and has returned to the sweltering South Texas summer heat to continue pursuing his dream of owning his own cattle.
Although the show turned the once timid cowboy into a socialite, he remains humble and expresses his gratitude for the generosity of the community.
“I did not expect any of this,” JP said. “I am receiving it all as a blessing sent by God and I do not have words.”
The show offered a grand prize of 50 head of cattle valued at an estimated $1,000 each. The fundraising organization for Gonzales has indicated it will accept any amount of money that is donated. A fund has been set up at Stockmens National Bank in Cotulla. Those who wish to donate an animal that they currently own can deliver it to the Pearsall Livestock Auction Barn.
“Some people were born to be doctors; some people were born to be lawyers,” Gonzales said. “But I was born to be a cowboy.”