The 2017 St. Jude Benefit Entry Auction Winner is...
Doc Mike on Captain Bill Staff's Sea Spray
It's a yearly tradition in the Blue Marlin Grand Championship in Orange Beach when the event is sold out with 60 participating teams, everyone else goes onto an alternate list. But for those who really want a shot at the title, there's another way.
The 61st entry is set aside as a VIP position known as the St. Jude Position, with special recognition throughout the tournament and even a prime boat slip included at The Wharf Marina for the week.
Participants were required to submit sealed bids (minimum bid $10,000) and highest bidder would be awarded the VIP St. Jude Position. The proceeds from this entry go directly toward funding St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
®, which is dedicated to finding cures for childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases. The advances made are at St. Jude are helping to save children everywhere.
After all the sealed bids were opened, what was most apparent was the generosity of every team that submitted a bid. "The 61st position is so much more than just being awarded a spot in the sold-out tournament," said Scott Burt of the Blue Marlin Grand Championship.
"Every person who has ever learned what St. Jude Children's Research Hospital does, every single day for children, immediately becomes engaged." He continued, "That engagement may be financial, or emotional or just having their spirits lifted by knowing what those amazing doctors are doing for those precious children. That is why we partner with St. Jude, and that is also the same reason that the spirit of giving among our tournament participants is at a very high level."
This year, the top three bidders were Randy Pipe on the Pipe Dream
, Wayne Mumphrey on Gunfighter
and Dr. Mike Henry on the Sea Spray
. How close was the bidding? Closer than it has ever been before. Winning the 61st VIP Position came down to the $320 which was 1.5 percent higher than the next closest bidder. In fishing terms, that would be like weighing a 788-pound Blue Marlin only to be edged out by an 800-pounder!
Henry's winning bid of $20,612 (which was $10,612 more than the minimum bid amount) set off a celebration of Sea Spray
tournament teammates from Tennessee to Ohio to Florida to Alabama and all the way to Alaska!
"We did not want to miss the 2017 Blue Marlin Grand Championship," said a jubilant Henry when he heard the news from Burt. "To get the 61st Position while supporting St. Jude is already the highlight of the tournament for our team. I would also to like commend the other teams that also submitted such generous bids. It shows how compassionate our big game fishing community is when it comes to things like supporting the fight against childhood cancer. As a doctor and fellow competitor, those other teams make me feel most proud."
Henry's winning bid of $20,612 did strike tournament officials as a bit odd, not due to the size, but the actual amount. Why not $20,500 or $20,600?
"Our team wanted to make sure we made a substantial bid, so we settled on $20,500 (which matched the previous highest bid by Rusty Skalla on Rise Up
). But then we thought maybe someone else would also bet that amount, so we wanted to go over by a relatively small amount," said Henry.
"The number 612 has been significant throughout my life," he said. "It started as the number of the first hotel room my wife and I stayed in together. Then when two of my best friends (they're on the team) Chef Ty and Brian Kelley opened their first restaurant/bar in Starkville, MS, they named it BIN 612. BIN after a wine bin and 612 as that is the restaurant address on University Drive. Then there's the condo in Orange Beach that my best friend Phil and I rent each year #612. And have for over 30 years. We had 13 of our 15 grandchildren with us this year. There are other instances when that number has also come into my life, and now here it is again.
It was my fault we missed the deadline to sign up for the tournament this year so I was grateful for the chance to win the St Jude Benefit auction bid. First St.Jude's is a fantastic cause to donate to. Then this fishing team has fished Scott Burt managed tournaments for decades. They are always first class. The Wharf is a dream location. And we've always only ever fished with the great Capt Bill Staff on the Sea Spray
. This year is quite special for us. Maybe some of the years we slightly took for granted but not this year. This year is really super special for us."
If Sea Spray
weighs in a 612-pound Blue Marlin in July, the cheers will be heard all the way to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.