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The one that got away: Not the fish, but the White Marlin Open's $2.8M prize

Phil Heasley, second from left, and Jim Motsko, founder of the White Marlin Open fishing tournament, second from right, pose with a promotional check at a tournament award ceremony in Ocean City in 2016.
Phil Heasley, second from left, and Jim Motsko, founder of the White Marlin Open fishing tournament, second from right, pose with a promotional check at a tournament award ceremony in Ocean City in 2016. (Larry Jock / Coastal Fisherman via AP))

A Florida man is fighting a protracted battle with a fishing tournament over $2.8 million in prize money.

Phil Heasley caught a 6-foot fish at the White Marlin Open off the coast of Ocean City last year. But he was denied the winnings because he and his crew failed to pass lie detector tests about whether they followed tournament rules.

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A federal judge ruled against Heasley in June after a nine-day trial. The judge said Heasley agreed to the tournament's rules, which included possibly taking a polygraph.

Heasley, who lives in Naples, is appealing the ruling. In a statement to The Associated Press, he said, “I am not the kind of person to lay down and let anyone run over us with lies and junk science.”

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