Big Mac Classic reels in $47,660 for Ronald McDonald House of Northwest Florida Charities

Tina Harbuck
The Destin Log
Will Sexton, left, weighs in his 45-pound king mackerel on Day 14 of the Destin Fishing Rodeo. His catch was the biggest in the Big Mac Classic event. He was fishing with his dad William Sexton on the SS Mullet.

Between boat registrations, sponsorships, donations and the sale of the red and white Ronald McDonald striped socks at the Destin Fishing Rodeo, the Big Mac Classic reeled in $47,660 for the Ronald McDonald House of Northwest Florida Charities in Pensacola, after paying out $15,000 in prize money.

During the past 12 years, the Big Mac Classic, an annual tournament to catch the largest king mackerel, has brought in $713,427 for the RMHC.

“This meant everything to us,” said Jerry Andrews of the RMHC and tournament director of the Big Mac Classic.

Usually, the tournament is held the weekend prior to the monthlong Destin Fishing Rodeo. This year, however, the Big Mac was incorporated into the October Rodeo and anglers had 31 days to catch a big king mackerel.

“I always wanted to be part of the Rodeo, just didn’t think we’d get the chance to,” Andrews said. 

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By having the Big Mac tournament each year, “it allows us to bring awareness to the Ronald McDonald House and how important it is to Northwest Florida families,” Andrews said. 

“And it gives the fishermen a way to give back to their community,” he said. 

The Ronald McDonald House, located in Pensacola, provides a place for families with sick children to stay near the hospital when they are receiving medical care. 

“By far, the largest percentage of families we serve are from Okaloosa/Walton counties,” said Summer Jimmerson, executive director of RMHC. 

In 2018, out of 1,094 families served, 415 were from Okaloosa/Walton counties. Already this year, out of 534 families served, 198 are from the Okaloosa and Walton.

So, the money raised through the fishing tournament, “will put a lot of families up,” Andrews said.

The tournament had 43 boats registered and nearly 60 fish weighed. 

The largest king mackerel, resulting in the $10,000 top prize, was caught by Will Sexton on the SS Mullet, with his father, Capt. William Sexton. He landed a 45-pounder for first place. 

Second place, and winner of $3,000, was Brooks Reid with a 41-pounder on the Wired Up with Capt. Doug Lambert. 

Third, and winner of $2,000, was Kelly Lupola with a 40.4-pounder on the Raymarine/Strike Two with Capt. Rob Lupola.