HOUSTON – Sure, Garth Brooks was the big headliner at night one of the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo Tuesday night, but a 6-year-old girl stole the show.
Marlie McDonald became the first mutton bustin' champion of 2018. The spunky redhead rode her sheep all the way across and got a score of 90.
"When I came in this morning, the kids, some of them were like, 'woo.' When I came in. They were like yelling and clapping," Marlie said about her class' reaction Wednesday.
But it's not just her performance (or her head full of adorable, red curls) getting attention. Her post-competition interview made her a champion to remember.
Marlie said she has been practicing with her dad and just listened to advice from her parents: "I did what my parents told me. I just hold on really tight."
The cute mutton bustin' champion may one day save the world! Marlie wants to be a spy when she grows up, and she excitedly explained why in the interview.
She was asked: "What part of being a spy is so interesting to you?" She replied: "Like, where you get to fight for the world...the bad guys...where you get to fight them."
Spy... shampoo model... rodeo champion. From what we saw on the rodeo floor Tuesday night, Marlie could be any of those things when she grows up. But for now, she will be more than happy to talk to you about her current title: mutton bustin' champion from night one of the rodeo.
Everyone was amazed she survived the 90-foot ride inside NRG Stadium, but Marlie has been a survivor since before she was born.
"When I was 34 weeks pregnant we found out she had a brain tumor," Nathalie McDonald, Marlie's mom, said.
The tumor was removed when Marlie was just 4 days old, then she underwent two years of chemotherapy.
She's now in long-term survivor treatment.
"That's one thing as a parent that made last night so special is because she was able to do something that we had no idea she's be able to do," Nathalie said.
She won the competition and her parents think this is just the beginning.
"Marlie is a really special child and she's been a great blessing to our family and I can't wait to see what the future holds for her because I really think God has a special purpose for her," Kevin McDonald, Marlie's father, said.