Not Your Average ‘Joe’

By Dave Sager

Odessa American

Exactly one year ago, 1997 Midland Lee graduate and former star quarterback for the Rebels David Smith was pretty much a nobody. Sure, he had a bit of celebrity status when he played for Lee, leading the Rebels to a perfect 10-0 season his senior year. That in itself attracted a lot of media attention towards him.

However, after he graduated, he left Midland, went off to college and eventually moved to Bellville, where he still resides today. So, last year when he competed in the SandHills Rodeo for the first time in his career as a bareback rider, no one took any notice. The name David Smith is almost as common as John Smith.

But what a difference a year makes.

“It’s been a big year for me,” Smith said. “I made it to my first circuit finals, I was on television and I got to meet some wonderful girls.” In case anyone out there in West Texas still does not know who Smith is, he was “The Next Joe Millionaire” on the sequel to FOX’s popular reality show “Joe Millionaire.”

And Friday night, Smith made his first return to the Permian Basin since the show aired. He competed in the bareback event during the first night of the Annual SandHills Rodeo. It was also his first rodeo competition in nearly seven months.

“I’m so excited to be back home doing something I love,” Smith said. “This is my hometown. I’m a little upset that I didn’t do well. I missed my horse out, but it’s still early. This is the first competition of the year and I’ve got some more (rodeos) to go to.”

Smith missed his mark out of the chute and was disqualified. According to the rules of rodeo, a bareback rider must begin his ride with his feet placed above the break of the horse’s shoulders. If his feet are not in the correct position when the horse hits the ground on its first jump out of the chute, he is said to have “missed his mark.”

The season finale of “The Next Joe Millionaire” aired a little more than a month ago and since the show, Smith is no longer a nobody. “It’s instant fame,” he said. “Everyone has been positive to me that I’ve met. I’m just blessed to have done that. Before the show, (the TV producers) tell you about the fame, but a guy could never be prepared for that. I’m an athlete, so I’ve been in the spotlight with football and college baseball. But to have it televised like that — you can’t be ready for that kind of instant fame.”

Aside from playing football, Smith qualified for the College National Finals Rodeo after winning the Southern Region in the bareback event when he attended Wharton College in Austin. He also played baseball at McMurry University in Abilene.

But his first love is rodeo.

“I’m never gonna give up bareback,” Smith said. “I hate to say it, but I’d have to get killed. I love to work out and I love to compete… But I can’t give up rodeo. It’s what put me in this position in the first place.” And just like most people did in the Permian Basin when they found out a Midlander was going to be on a national television show, Smith, too, watched the show and said that he was pretty pleased with the outcome and his portrayal.

“It’s really odd seeing yourself on TV,” he said. “I thought they portrayed me pretty accurately. I thought they made the girls look a little bit more money- hungry than they actually were, but that’s just me. I had a wonderful time. They were all great girls, and I had great dates with all of them.” Anyone who watched the show, or even just the season finale, knows what happened. Smith had to choose between Cat, from Germany, and Linda, from the Czech Republic. He chose Linda, who initially spurned him, saying she was upset about the lie — not the fact that he was not really a millionaire. But in the end, it was a happy ending for Smith as Linda changed her mind and met him at his ranch, just outside of Austin, that FOX gave to him. The show ended with both riding off into the sunset and Smith was quoted as saying: “The show is over, but the relationship has just begun.” But did it?

“I’ve been talking with Linda,” Smith said. “She’s really successful in her modeling in Europe. It’s not like we’re getting married or anything, but I felt we met for a reason. She’s a wonderful person and if it’s mean to be, it’ll happen… They couldn’t have put us any farther apart.

“But if it works out, bonus. If not, I’ve got a great friend.”


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