Breakaway Benefactor: 18-Time WPRA World Champion JJ Hampton

In this 10-part series, Julie Mankin profiles the unsung heroes of breakaway roping.


J.J. Hampton was–and is–to the WPRA what Cody Ohl was to the PRCA. That ride-or-die attitude; that pure craving for competition; that electricity.

“I love it,” she says. “There’s no other word. To go and enter and hear your name called and try to get to as many as you can… rodeoing is not always easy. It’s a grueling sport. It has no shame in taking you down to the bottom any time.”

She was right there 25 years ago hauling for world titles at big rodeos with more than a hundred entries. For some women, a lot of socializing happened back then. Not for J.J.

[Full List: The 10 Unsung Heroes of Breakaway Roping]

“I didn’t rodeo to make friends,” she says of all that time in the truck with her sister (Marty Yates’ mother), Angie. “I wasn’t mean, but my goal wasn’t to carouse around.”

She was purely there to compete. That full-throttle attitude dovetailed with her grit and try.

“My sister or my brother could have outroped me, but they didn’t have the heart for rodeoing that I did,” says Hampton, whose intensity still fires up her rivals. “I could win my 18th world title this year! It was 20 years ago when I got the last one. They’re 20 years apart. I don’t know how many people have done that.”

Hampton loves being able to show her 11-year-old son, Kason, that you can become a world champion if you work hard. “I’m a short, fat lady who won 17 world championships (now 18 world championships after winning the 2020 WPRA Breakaway Roping title), so at least I’ve shown him anything’s possible,” she says with a laugh.

As the elder contestants at the NFR, Hampton and Guy agree they want the sport to take forward strides, but not at the cost of making it right years down the road.

“Just getting to the NFR isn’t worth it if we’ll be treated like stepchildren,” says Hampton. “We want to get there and have it be good for all the kids to come. There are so many women ropers out there and we have value; we can’t sell ourselves short. I don’t think the PRCA rodeos really know what to do with us yet. When they figure out we’re there and we’re serious, hopefully they won’t just put us up in slack but in the perfs with the other contestants.”

JJ Hampton Throws FAST. Here’s How She Keeps Her Horses Working Anyway.

Nobody loves winning more than Hampton, and it spreads to girls who are watching.

“It’s love of the game,” Hampton says of her longevity. “I flat love to compete. My family says I’ll do it until I die. I love it.”

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