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Tennessee banker wins annual Hemingway Look-Alike contest in Florida

In this Saturday, July 20, 2019, photo provided by the Florida Keys News Bureau, Joe Maxey, second from left, celebrates his victory at the Hemingway Look-Alike Contest at Sloppy Joe’s Bar in Key West, Fla. Competing for the eighth time, Maxey beat 141 other contestants to claim top honors. The competition highlighted activities during the yearly Hemingway Days festival that honors author Ernest Hemingway, who lived in Key West during the 1930s. (Associated Press)
Published Jul. 22

KEY WEST, Fla. — Persistence paid off for a retired Tennessee banker who won the weekend's Hemingway Look-Alike Contest on his eighth try.

Joe Maxey, 68, of Cedar Hill, triumphed during the three-round contest that concluded Saturday night at Key West's Sloppy Joe's Bar, a frequent hangout for Nobel Prize-winning author Ernest Hemingway when he lived and wrote on the subtropical island during the 1930s. This year's Hemingway Days celebration marked the writer's 120th birthday.

"Just to be part of this history of Hemingway is just incredible," Maxey said.

RELATED: Dozens dress up like Ernest Hemingway for Key West contest

Maxey said he's not a prolific angler as was Hemingway, who targeted blue marlin, sailfish and other deep-sea game fish between Key West and Cuba, but does share other traits with the author.

"I love mojitos, and I love women, too," he said.

The Look-Alike Contest was judged by a panel of former winners including 2018's Michael Groover, husband of celebrity chef Paula Deen.

Many contenders wore casual sportsmen's garb or thick sweaters, attempting to emulate Hemingway's characteristic appearance in his later years. Crowds of spectators roared approval as they paraded onstage and took turns speaking.

Some sang parodies pleading for victory, and one even trumpeted a melody on a conch shell.

Hemingway Days salutes the adventurous lifestyle of the author, who wrote "For Whom the Bell Tolls," ''To Have and Have Not," and other classics during his Key West years.

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