EUFAULA, Ala. (WRBL) – Major League Fishing held their Bass Pro Tour Championship this week at Lakepoint State Park, bringing with them a significant economic boost for the area.
The championship was supposed to be held on Lake Palestine in Texas. After a winter storm left many Texans without water or power, the event was relocated to Lake Eufaula.
“We are just thankful that everyone is okay,” said Ann Sparks, Tourism Director of Eufaula Barbour Chamber of Commerce. “It was touch and go trying to get their people out of Texas and finding their way here. We’re just glad everything worked out okay and we have a great relationship with them that will continue on forever.”
Throughout the week, 40 anglers, or fishermen, competed for a prize of $300,000. For the final round, weights were zeroed and the angler with the highest total weight was crowned.
Alabama native Dustin Connell emerged as the champion, catching 12 bass for 36 pounds and 15 ounces. He broke down in tears when he realized he had won.
“I mean I literally was on the front deck praying and crying,” Connell said. “I still can’t believe this. I really can’t.”
Connell grew up going to fishing tournaments in Lake Eufaula, and he was able to celebrate the win with his family. His mom and step-mom counted down the clock, watching the online stream until the last second when Connell was named the winner.
This championship could potentially have a huge economic impact on Eufaula. The event brought in roughly $200,000 to the city, but, beyond that, over 5 million people tuned in to stream the event online.
Mayor Jack Tibbs says the exposure from the championship is priceless.