Officials of the White Marlin Open have withheld the $2,800,000 prize money for the only white marlin weighed in this years tournament. The 76.5 lb. white marlin was caught on the second day of the tournament by Phil Heasley on the Kallianassa" and was the only white marlin that met the 70 lb. minimum weight requirement.
The winner of the White Marlin Division is always subjected to a polygraph test and the test given to angler Phil Heasley and the crew on the "Kallinassa" indicated to tournament officials that there was an apparent rules violation and Mr. Heasley would not be awarded the $2,818,660 in award money. Officials said that a determination will be made on how to distribute the winnings according to tournament rules and regulations.
The statement from Jim Motsko, President of the White Marlin Open read:
On August 9, the winning angler in the white marlin category provided catch information for the white marlin, which, as it turned out, would be the sole qualifying white marlin in the tournament.
Subsequent investigation as required by the rules and regulations of the White Marlin Open indicated a possible violation of the rules. Accordingly, in an effort to achieve the utmost fairness, the White Marlin Open directors met with independent judges and complete information was provided to the judges for their input with regard to the issue of the potential violation of the rules.
After much discussion, and providing evidence of the possible violation of the tournament rules, the judges agreed that the prize would not be awarded to the boat catching the qualifying white marlin, but would, in accordance with the rules of the tournament, be withheld pending the determination of the proper recipient of the prize money.
The White Marlin Open strives to obtain the highest integrity and level of transparency in fairness in all of its awards and determination of adherence to the rules and regulations in all cases,” the statement reads. “It is for these reasons that the tournament directors, in coordination with the independent judges in the tournament, have made the determination to withhold the winning prize until it can be ensured that the prize is being paid to the proper recipient thereof.
Tournament officials said that they "can't comment further right now."