Fantasy fishing’s $1 million winner is from St. Michael

Minneapolis – When Irwin Jacobs revealed plans to create a
fantasy fishing league and award $1 million to the winner, even the
folks in his office looked at him like he was crazy. Look who’s
laughing now.

Last week, Jacobs – chairman of FLW_Outdoors and the creator of
FLW_Fantasy Fishing – awarded $1 million to Michael Thompson, a
33-year-old from St. Michael, Minn., who topped players from 122
countries to grab the largest payday in the history of fantasy
sports.

“Every tournament, I ended up getting a few guys making the top
10, and the last one just went my way,” Thompson said. “There’s not
even words for it… It still hasn’t really sunk in.”

Thompson, a stay-at-home father of two who’s studying to become
a police officer and volunteers with the Wright County Sheriff’s
Office, plans to pay off his bass boat, and buy his wife, Penny, a
new car, as well as a new house and some hunting land. He’s wanted
a new house and land, and “it’s going to come a little sooner now,”
he said.

Thompson fishes some bass tournaments in Minnesota, and hopes to
fish on the FLW tour as a co-angler next year.

Thompson topped other fantasy players by consistently predicting
the bass anglers who would do best in seven FLW tournaments, which
began in February. Thompson correctly picked Michael Bennett, a
24-year-old bass pro from California, to win the Forrest Wood Cup,
held in mid-August.

Thompson was among 15 finalists at an event last week in
Columbia, S.C. Another player from Minnesota – Jeff Nelson of New
Brighton – took ninth place and won a $10,000 Walmart gift
card.

Anglers who participated in fantasy fishing selected 10 anglers
before each of the seven FLW tournaments. They earned points based
on the performance of the fishermen they selected for each
tournament.

The vision

Jacobs, who’s been in the fishing tournament business for 15
years, said the progress has surpassed even his expectations.

He had never played fantasy sports before starting the fishing
league, but after some research decided “fantasy sports is one of
those areas that people are getting more involved with every
day.”

With millions of players involved in other fantasy sports like
football, he saw potential for fantasy fishing, as well as an
opportunity to “bring more people into the world of awareness of
fishing,” Jacobs said.

He believes 15 million people will participate in fantasy
fishing in the next 24 months, and hopes to up the ante even
more.

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