By: Scott Way
His Airness has returned to his home state of North Carolina in search of gold. Not that he's short on the stuff, considering he won an NCAA championship with the Tar Heels in '82, plus six NBA rings, plus the umpteen gold bars he's likely wagered in Vegas. But this time MJ isn't after pirate booty off the North Carolina coast. He's on the hunt for one of the few prizes he hasn't won yet: 1st place at the annual Big Rock Blue Marlin Fishing Tournament.
'Big Rock' is an annual pilgrimage for hardcore fisherman. It's where big reputations are put on the line, massive marlin get reeled in, and powerhouse boats make waves against the best fishermen in North America. This year will have $3.4 million up for grabs, with grand prizes for the biggest blue marlin and biggest game fish (i.e., tuna, wahoo, or dolphin fish). The tournament kickstarted on June 11th and runs through Sunday June 20th in Moorehead, NC. This year has over 270 competitors angle for their share of the winnings.
Catch 23 took the lead early in the week with a 25 lb dolphin fish, but that number did not stay atop the leaderboard for long. MJ's squad currently sits in 8th place in the gamefish category with three days left to go. They've been hooked onto other fish, but haven't yet pulled a marlin aboard. Last year there was a glimmer of hope that Jordan might pull off the fishing equivalent of 'The Last Shot' when he hooked a 442 lb marlin late in the tourney, but in the end the team had to settle for 6th place overall.
MJ has competed at Big Rock the last couple years, but still hasn't cracked the podium. For a guy famous for his competitive streak, that's gotta sting. But, in typical Jordan fashion, he's giving himself the best chance at winning by cruising into town aboard his custom-built Viking sportfishing yacht. The Catch 23 is based out of Jupiter, Florida (where Jordan also owns property) and carries an LOA of 80'6", a beam of 21'5", and has a custom elephant print wrap to match his Air Jordan 3 sneakers (and his private jet). Other snazzy features include a 60" flatscreen tv on an electronic lift, two full galleys, a wet bar, sleeping accommodations for 10 guests, a top speed of 40 knots (46 mph) ...and an $8 million USD price tag.
You can check out some of the highlights from early in the tournament below (the Catch 23 comes in around the 53-minute mark). You can also follow along for live updates on the tourney website or on their Facebook page.