The title of 2019 World Reserve Livestock Auction Champion was an added bonus to the championship belt buckle that Kellyton's Chuck Bradley won after placing second at this year’s auctioneer competition in California.
“I just wanted to get in the top 10 and get my belt buckle,” Bradley joked. “Win, lose or draw – I was good with it.”
The Kellyton native has been in the auctioneering business since he rocked his high school talent show performance as an auctioneer in 2011, based on a dare. He fell in love with the skill and the career and has sold everything from pencils and socks to cattle and cars.
“The best part is you never know what you’re going to sell,” he said. “The worst part was trying to figure out what to ask, how much to take for an item and what increment to work in. I work to get the seller the best price. Now, it’s all second nature. I can think about cutting grass while selling.”
The weeklong Livestock Marketing Association conference changes locations annually, and competitors must place in the top 10 in three nationwide qualifiers to earn a spot in the ring. Thirty auctioneers from around the country, and one from Canada, close out the week with an interview process and live auction demonstrations.
“Past champions ask you three questions, and you have no idea what they’ll ask you. You’re answering in front of a public audience of nearly 200 people,” said Bradley. “That part makes up about 25 percent of your score, and the other 75 percent is the live auction.”
When Bradley entered the 2018 World Championship, he placed 28th in the interview process but clinched eighth his second go around, which is what really pushed him into the finalists.
“I was scheduled to go last for the live auction part, which is where I wanted to be. That way I could leave a lasting impression on the judges,” he said. “There are five judges, and the process is really all opinion based on what style they like. The scores are very subjective.”
When announcing the runner-up, reserve and champion (also known as third, second and first places), judges play an audio clip of the auctioneers’ auditions and flash their photos on the big screen. Bradley’s shock factor was stunted, since the clip they played did not match his picture on the screen. They accidentally played the wrong one, so it was confusing that Bradley was indeed the second place reserve champ.
“I don’t think it sunk in until I got home that I had just placed second. We were all so confused when they played that clip. We were looking around and no one knew who it was,” said Bradley.
Next year’s championship will take place in Nashville, and Bradley said he hopes to best the competition to be No. 1.
“I always have a competitive spirit, but I really just have fun with it,” he said.
Traveling and making friends from around the country are two of the best rewards of his career, said Bradley.
To become a certified auctioneer, Bradley attended a 10-day course in Atlanta and completed an 85-hour licensing program. Currently, he sells cars and cattle weekly in Mobile, Montgomery and Birmingham.
“It takes a certain mindset to do this for a living,” he said.