The Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament is known as one of the biggest fishing events in the country. Fittingly, Michael Jordan entered the 62nd installment of the annual tournament and made an immediate impact.
Jordan and the crew on his boat, Catch 23, reeled in a 442-pound blue marlin Tuesday, the second day of the tournament in the basketball great’s home state of North Carolina.
Video captured Catch 23 pulling in toward the docks in Morehead City, North Carolina. When Jordan emerged on the back deck of his 80-foot Viking, the crowd started cheering and whistling. The marlin then was hoisted up for the weigh-in and came in with an official listing of 442.3 pounds, drawing even more cheers as Jordan and his crew took pictures from behind it with cigars in hand.
“It’s been a while since I’ve been back in Morehead City. It’s only about 100 miles from Wilmington, and it’s always great for me to be able to come back,” Jordan said. “I’m happy to be back. Thank you for inviting me.”
Catch 23’s marlin is the sixth heaviest reeled in so far during the tournament, which boasts a $3.3 million overall purse. Jordan’s boat had been in fifth place until a vessel came in later Tuesday with a 450-pound blue marlin.
The fish wasn’t big enough to place in the top three, so it is not eligible for prize money. But Jordan and his crew still have two more days to catch a bigger marlin and collect some prize money. The leading blue marlin weighed in at 494.2 pounds.
“I would love to be back with a little bit bigger fish,” Jordan said in a brief interview posted on the tournament’s Facebook page.
The tournament pays out for the three largest blue marlins boated, with the winner taking home $1.1 million for the heaviest catch. There also is a $550,000 prize for the first boat to land a 500-pounder.
Crystal Hesmer, the tournament’s executive director, said the atmosphere on shore was “electric” when Jordan’s boat, which has a hull painted in Tar Heels blue, pulled into the dock to unload the marlin.
“Oh, my gosh, for Michael Jordan to be in our same air space is exciting and thrilling enough, but for him to land a fish at our tournament and bring it in is thrilling for the entire town,” Hesmer told The Associated Press by phone. “It’s unbelievable that he’s here in our little town.”
Jordan said this isn’t his first marlin tournament, but it is the first one in which he has competed in North Carolina.
“This is a chance for me to come back home,” he said. “Every chance I get, I love to come back home.”
The six-day tournament runs through Saturday and features 205 boats from around the world.
The Big Rock tournament began in 1957.
“Even though I didn’t win, right now, today, I’d like to thank everyone for supporting the tournament,” Jordan said.