For decades, it seemed almost impossible for an angler to win the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods in his home state.
Now it’s happened four times in six years.
Tennessee pro Ott DeFoe, who makes his home in Knoxville, caught five bass Sunday from the Tennessee River that weighed 18 pounds, 14 ounces to win the Super Bowl of Bass Fishing and the $300,000 prize that goes with the iconic trophy.
His three-day total weight of 49-3 helped him slip past second-place angler Jacob Wheeler before a raucous home crowd at the University of Tennessee’s Thompson-Boling Arena.
The world-championship bass tournament drew a record-total attendance of 153,809 to tournament venues, including daily weigh-ins in Thompson-Boling Arena, the Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo consumer show presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods in the Knoxville Convention Center and World's Fair Exhibition Hall, and morning takeoffs at Volunteer Landing. Attendance counts, including as many as 6,500 at Saturday’s early-morning takeoff, were provided by officials at each of the venues.
“This is a dream come true — a dream I’ve had since I was a 9-year-old kid,” said DeFoe, who now has six career victories with B.A.S.S. “When we came over here and did the walk-through the day before the tournament, I actually imagined hearing my name after the words ‘Bassmaster Classic champion.’
“For it to happen now … I just keep thinking I’m gonna wake up.”
For the first 36 years the event was held, no home-state angler claimed the