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Cash Owens, 11, of Blue Earth, Minn., stands with emcee and veteran auctioneer Al Wessel (center), of Long Prairie, Minn., as he picks up bids Jan. 21 during the Greater Midwest Livestock Auctioneer Championship at Herreid (S.D.) Livestock Auction. (Mikkel Pates / Agweek)

Auction wunderkind: Blue Earth youth a celebrity in Herreid, S.D.

HERREID, S.D. — They call him Cash.

Eleven-year-old Cash Owens certainly is getting a jump-start as a professional livestock auctioneer, using his voice and personality to extract the most cash for livestock in a sale ring.

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The kid comes by it honestly. He is the son of Dan and Leah Owens, who own Blue Earth (Minn.) Stockyards LLC, and is a regular auctioneer at the facility, where his father also is an auctioneer.

Cash was not a competitor, but was a celebrity attraction of sorts at the Greater Midwest Livestock Auctioneer Championship on Jan. 22 in Herreid, S.D.

Owens was recognized by many spectators because he’s become a popular feature on the internet. He’s appeared on various television news programs. He’s been interviewed for an NBC variety show called “Little Big Shots.” The episode will air at 7 p.m. Central on March 13, on NBC.

The program is hosted by Ellen DeGeneres and Steve Harvey and showcases musicians, singers, dancers and “every form of wunderkind in the country,” according to its website description.

Certainly Cash is a wunderkind.

“I practiced for three years and have done it for a year and a half at Blue Earth Stockyards,” he says. Owens is the second youngest of five children. A brother, Cody, is a year older and also is an auctioneer. His younger brother, 8, is learning how to chant. He goes to public school in Trimont, Minn., at Martin County West school.

Fledgling fable

Owens remembers how he got bit by the auctioneering bug.

“We went out to Billings (Mont.) with a buddy of ours” to a livestock auction, Owens says, as though reading off a script. “I told the buddy I wish you were as good as them. And so he started teaching me on the way home, and we started ‘selling’ everything we could see.”

Since then, Cash has done a little formal auction school, but it’s mostly practice at his parents’ sale barn. The auctioneering technique includes “learning your numbers” and “filler words” that come between numbers. Examples include “bet-he-bought-’er” and “the handle goes up and the hammer goes down.”

Cash has done “a lot” of sales and now sells cattle with the other auctioneers. Besides auctioneering, he likes to bull-ride, bull-fight and ride horses. Several in his family members have competed in national rodeo competitions.