A 68-year-old white-bearded retired banker has won the Hemingway Look-Alike Contest, a highlight of Key West’s annual Hemingway Days celebration that ends Sunday on the 120th anniversary of Ernest Hemingway’s birth.
Joe Maxey of Cedar Hill, Tennessee, triumphed over 141 other entrants in the three-round contest that concluded Saturday night at Sloppy Joe’s Bar. The bar was a frequent hangout for Hemingway when he lived and wrote in Key West during the 1930s.
“I love his writing; he was a great writer, and just to be part of this history of Hemingway is just incredible,” said Maxey, an eight-time competitor who credited his win in part to persistence.
The Look-Alike Contest was judged by a panel of former winners including 2018’s Michael Groover.
Many contenders wore casual sportsman’s garb or thick sweaters, attempting to emulate Hemingway’s characteristic appearance in his later years. Crowds of spectators roared applause as they paraded onstage and took turns speaking.
Some sang song parodies pleading for victory, and one even trumpeted a melody on a fluted conch (pronounced “KONK”) shell.
Maxey said he can’t catch fish like Hemingway, who pursued deep-sea gamefish in the waters between Key West and Cuba, but he shares other traits with the author.
“The one thing I have in common with Hemingway is I love mojitos. And I love women, too,” he said.
Hemingway Days salutes the adventurous lifestyle and literary mastery of the author who wrote “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” “To Have and Have Not” and other classics during his Key West years.