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No bull, this hefty beast's a stud.
Reared in western Manitoba, named for a former Winnipeg Blue Bombers quarterback and recently sold to a Cy Young Award winner, he's Canada prime beef from muzzle to the tip of his tail.
The red Charolais male was auctioned off — for the bull that he is and the offspring he'll beget — last month by a cattle farm about 35 kilometres northeast of Virden. To be sure, Jesse Nykoliation didn't swap the 680-kilogram purebred, tagged TRI-N Streveler 971G in honour of Grey Cup winning-QB Chris Streveler, for a pouch of magic beans.
TRI-N Charolais Farms sold two-thirds of the bull for $45,000. The business retained one-third of all future breeding profits for the finest specimen the family-run operation has produced.
"He's the cream of the crop. We've never sold one for this high," Nykoliation said Thursday. "There's probably 200 Charolais bull sales in Canada each year, and he sold for the highest.
"My parents (Merv and Joanne) have been raising purebred Charolais cattle for 35 years on our farm, and this bull is the product of all our breeding from the very beginning... We raised him from a calf and sold him at 13 months. This bull just grew so big, so quickly, too, another reason he's worth so much money."
Nykoliation, 32, is a Bombers superfan and had endured decades of disappointing finishes until November, when the team won its first CFL championship since 1990.
He said it made sense to forever brand the family's treasured toro with the Streveler name.
"It took us 35 years to breed this bull and it took 29 years to win a Grey Cup. We waited for a good quarterback and we waited for a good bull like this for a lot of years, so I thought it was pretty fitting," said Nykoliation.
Reached by phone Thursday, Streveler, 25, who spent two memorable campaigns in the Manitoba capital before signing an NFL deal with the Arizona Cardinals in February, said Bombers fans' fervour never ceases to amaze him.
"This is crazy. I'm pretty flattered by it all," said the 6-1, 215-pound pivot, who hails from Naperville, Ill. "I'm living in Arizona now, and some of my new teammates have been talking about it non-stop and I'm thinking, 'This is the coolest thing ever.' His offspring is going to be all over the place, with my name on them.
"It's just another thing I can't believe has happened in my life."
Like the football player, the bull is now working south of the border.
The winning bid came from Cliff Lee, a four-time major-league all-star and 2008 American League Cy Young winner. Now retired, Lee has several business ventures in Arkansas and owns a cattle ranch in northern Missouri.
The Manitoba family has dealt only with one of Lee's business partners.
"I was hoping to get down there and meet with Cliff this summer and see the ranch, but with this COVID-19, who knows now?" Nykoliation said. "I know he's very pleased with our bull. It's an investment for him."
The animal was transported to Iowa earlier this month, and is undergoing regular semen collection, a major money generator. It has been sold to cattle operations across North America, and as far away as Australia.
"He's undergoing health tests and collecting semen (before the bull goes to Missouri). It will sit in quarantine for 60 days and then his genetics will be shipped all over. There could potentially be 30,000 little Strevelers throughout the world," Nykoliation said.
Normally, the farm draws about 150 people to its spring cattle auction. This year, because of the ongoing health crisis restrictions, it was held online March 23.
"We'll sell bulls from Quebec and Ontario to Alberta, Texas, Oklahoma and West Virginia. There were a lot of different (bidders) who wanted to buy this bull. He was one of 50 we sold, but our average price wasn't $45,000," Nykoliation said with a laugh. "The average price was about $6,700, but his lineage was really stacked."
In major operations such as TRI-N Charolais Farms — with 450 head of purebred Charolais and commercial cattle and 4,000 acres of land — the herd isn't viewed as pets.
However, Nykoliation maintained Streveler was a bit of a different animal.
"This one was pretty hard to let go. We were a lot closer with this guy than most. I could walk right up to him and pet him," he said. "He'd put his head down and want a scratch.
"We do have semen from this bull, so we will have Strevelers of our own. We'll have calves off him next year."
Assistant sports editor
Jason Bell wanted to be a lawyer when he was a kid. The movie The Paper Chase got him hooked on the idea of law school and, possibly, falling in love with someone exactly like Lindsay Wagner (before she went all bionic).
Updated on Thursday, April 23, 2020 at 7:01 PM CDT: Updates story add photo
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