MARATHON, Florida Keys – A Florida Keys commercial fisherman set a new record to win this year’s Keys Fisheries’ Stone Crab Eating Contest in the Florida Keys.
Twenty-eight participants, divided into individual and team divisions, participated in the raucous amateur eating competition in Marathon.
Contestants had to crack and eat 25 stone crab claws and pick them completely clean in the fastest time. Participants received a 30-second penalty for any claw meat left behind.
Big Pine Key, Fla., resident Bobby Hanousek far outpaced competitors to finish in 10 minutes, 23 seconds, shattering the previous record of 14 minutes, 29 seconds.
Hanousek, who works as a commercial stone crab and lobster fisherman, said this was his first time in the stone crab eating competition.
“I saw everybody else smashing them all at one time, and others smashing them one at a time,” Hanousek said. “I just went one at a time, so I didn’t leave any behind and get penalized.”
His strategy worked, leading him to shave over four minutes off the previous record. Prizes included certificates for jewelry, a fishing charter, a Keys hotel stay and more.
Marathon residents Ryan Becket and Felicita Franco claimed the top team title, finishing in six minutes and 34 seconds, a new team record.
Stone crabs are considered a renewable resource because of the crabs’ ability to re-grow harvested claws. The Florida Keys are responsible for about half of the state’s stone crab harvest that averages about 2 million pounds annually, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Stone crab harvest season runs Oct. 15 to May 1.