Authorities investigating viral fishing scandal

Midwest

BRAINERD, MN – JANUARY 26: A volunteer prepares to release a walleye caught at the Brainerd Jaycees Ice Fishing Extravaganza fishing tournament on Gull Lake January 26, 2008 in Brainerd, Minnesota. All of the fish caught in the tournament are released back into the lake once they are weighed and recorded. The tournament, billed as the world’s largest ice fishing competition, attracted over 10,000 participants who competed for $150,000 in prizes. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

CLEVELAND (NewsNation) — Chaos unfolded Friday when participants at an Ohio fishing tournament caught one of the competitors inflating the weight of their catch.

In video that has since gone viral on social media, metal weights can be seen being removed from inside a walleye.

The Washington Post reports that had they not been caught, Jacob Runyan and Chase Cominsky would have won the competition and walked away with nearly “$30,000 in prizes.”

Instead, they were rewarded with shouting, threats and profane language. In competitive fishing, a livelihood for many, cheating isn’t taken lightly, and emotions boiled over when an event organizer felt something was off with their submission.

The county prosecutor’s office in Cleveland has opened an investigation into the pair.

“They were winning a lot, they were making money, they were living the life, you know?” said fishing competitor John Stewart. “I think this will go down in history. Nobody ever, ever in the sport of fishing since I’ve been alive has ever been caught this way.”

The tournament consists of “multiple competitions spanning several months” along Lake Erie, according to The Washington Post.

Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O’Malley said his staff will be meeting with the agency’s officers Tuesday.

“I take all crime seriously, including attempted felony theft at a fishing tournament,” O’Malley said. “These individuals will be held accountable.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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