Two fishermen appear to have been caught with hooks, line and sinkers after they allegedly tried to cheat in a fishing competition.
The competitive fishing world is being rocked by the scandal after footage of a shot put inside a bigeye fish went viral.
Jacob Runyan and Chase Cominsky are looking to take first place at the Lake Erie Walleye Trail Championship in Cleveland, Ohio, and take home $30,000 (£26,300).
However, they were disqualified and are currently under investigation by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, NBC News reported.
Video of the weigh-in shows tournament director Jason Fischer opening a catch before shouting: “We have the weight of the fish!”
Fischer threw the ball out of the catch as people off-camera were heard yelling in disgust at the suspicious behavior.
A visibly distraught man shouted, “You bastard!”
If no weight is found, Runyan and Cominsky lift the trophy for the heaviest fish.
Anglers has not responded to a request for comment.
The video, shot by non-competitive Wisconsin fishing guide Troy Krause, had nearly 7.5 million views and 400,000 likes on TikTok in the two days following the contest.
“I get comments like, ‘How did I get into fish? I don’t even like fishing,'” Mr Krause said. “But it’s crazy that they’re so invested in the story and want to know what’s going on.”
How did the doubt arise?
Mr Krause, himself a longtime walleye fisherman, said many at the local fishing ground suspected for some time that Mr Runian and Mr Kominsky might be cheating.
According to Mr Krause, the pair have won a string of recent bouts over the past year that “didn’t happen”
“Are you going to tell me these two are going to win every game on a lake like this? No. You have to be a little realistic,” he said. “I think they were just taken away and caught in the end, which is fine.”
Catching the best fish requires knowledge and skill to understand where the biggest fish lurk and how to catch them – but it also takes some luck to win any competition.
Good news for future games?
Mr Krause said the cheating scandal could be good news for future games.
“I think there will be more scrutiny, so there will be less cheating because if you get caught, see what happens,” he said. “It’s actually good for the industry, even though it looks bad right now.”
World chess champion Magnus Carlsen comes just days after the chess world erupted over cheating controversy blame a master Or a foul due to his “unusual” overall improvement.
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