They Thought They'd Won $3.5M Prize. Then Judges Spotted the Bite

Massive 619.4-lb. marlin was disqualified at NC tournament
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 19, 2023 3:29 PM CDT
Shark Bite Costs Fishing Crew $3.5M Prize
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/Kelly Dalling)

For the crew of the Sensation, it will be remembered as the prize that got away. They spent six hours reeling in a massive blue marlin at the 65th Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament and were poised to win a $3.5 million prize until judges noticed a problem with the 619.4-pound fish, the Washington Post reports. "It would appear that this fish has been bitten by a shark," emcee Tommy Bennett said at the event in Morehead City, North Carolina Saturday night. On Sunday, organizers confirmed that the catch had been disqualified due to what appeared to be a shark bite near its head, reports the News & Observer.

Under International Game Fish Association rules, a fish is disqualified if there is "mutilation ... caused by sharks, other fish, mammals, or propellers that remove or penetrate the flesh." Game fisherman Jeremy Duffie tells the Post that the rule exists because crews sometimes subdue fish by hitting them with their boats—and because fish injured by shark bites are easier to catch.

The $2.77 million top prize went to the crew of the Sushi, who reeled in 484.5-pound marlin on Friday. The Sensation crew's prize would have included an extra $739,500 for bringing in the first fish over 500 pounds. That part of the prize will now roll over to next year. Sensation captain Greg McCoy says he was sure they were going to win when they brought in the marlin on the last night of the contest. "It’s the final hour, the final day and we fought with him for six hours," he tells the Post. "It’s a tough pill to swallow." (More fishing stories.)

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