Leave it to a small group of South Dakotan beef lovers to get national exposure on the longest running syndicated game show by offering beef as a prize.

That’s what Bob Montross, beef producer, farmer, and one of the eight volunteer Beef Bucks, Inc., directors, recently accomplished. What took two years of persuasive phone calls and e-mails resulted in a Beef Bucks gift tag on the colorful wheel that contestants spin for cash and prizes on the popular program, Wheel of Fortune.

The first episode featuring the $1,000 beef prize aired January 9 and it was quickly won by one of the three contestants, although overshadowed by the new car she also won in the same round.

Beef Bucks committed to providing three $1,000 gift cards to the game show as a way to promote beef to millions of people in the United States. Formed in 1997, the non-profit organization is based in the small town of De Smet, SD, and promotes the beef industry by selling pre-paid checks and gift cards in various dollar amounts that can be used to purchase beef at grocery stores, restaurants, and retailers across the nation. Beef Bucks has sold more than $1 million worth of beef-only checks and reloadable debit cards that have been used in more than 40 states.

Backed by two financial institutions, the unique group is run out of the home of Montross and his wife, Nancy, who are often called “Ambassadors of Beef.” The couple and Beef Bucks also promote their industry by educating consumers on beef nutrition and cooking.

Since the bucks are sold on a dollar-for-dollar exchange, the program and many other projects the organization is involved with including scholarship presentations are financially supported by the sale of a beef recipe collection and sponsors of an annual golf tournament.

Montross said everyone was pretty excited when they received the call last summer from Wheel of Fortune that Beef Bucks had been selected as one of the gift tags contestants can win.

“We knew then that we had made the big time,” he gushed.

February 2012 RENDER | back