On Saturday, January 28, the Brainerd Jaycees Ice Fishing Extravaganza was held in Brainerd, Minnesota. According to their Facebook page, this huge event featured nearly 12,000 people in attendance. It's a fun event for all, but especially for the winner who gets to choose between a Ford F150 or GMC Canyon, courtesy of a local auto dealership.

Contestants in this year's tournament not only came from across the country, including New York, and California, but a few contestants reportedly flew in from Australia and France in order to be a part of the event.

Organizers note that there are two notable characteristics of this event. First, it is entirely run and organized by volunteers. Second, 100% of the proceeds are donated to charities. The largest beneficiary is Confidence Learning Center, an outdoor education facility for individuals with cognitive and developmental disabilities.

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An event of this enormity takes a lot of volunteer hours. In fact, the Brainerd Jaycees invest nearly 25,000 volunteer hours in the year-long planning of the contest. The day before the event, one hundred volunteers drilled 14,300 holes for the participants. So, the stage was set for a great tournament on January 28.

While everyone expected to have a fun day, I don't think anyone expected the grand prize would go to a 13-year-old Minnesota boy. However, that is exactly what happened when Zac Padrnos reeled in the winner.

At about 1:53 p.m, 13-year-old Zac Padrnos of Minnesota was fishing in about 50 ft of water with his tungsten jig and 3-pound test line when he felt a hit of what he thought was a tullibee, but in the end, with adrenaline running he ended up reeling in a fish of a lifetime, a walleye.


Zac had caught a 9.45 lb walleye to win the tournament. Even though he won't have his driver's license for a few years, he is the proud owner of a new vehicle. Zac chose the Ford F150.

On Monday afternoon the Brainerd Jaycees Ice Fishing Extravaganza Facebook page provided an awesome update. Zac had visited the Mills Automotive Group to check out his new ride.

Brainerd Jaycees Ice Fishing Extravaganza Facebook
Brainerd Jaycees Ice Fishing Extravaganza Facebook

It looks like that Ford is a perfect fit for him and he'll always have an amazing story to tell about his first truck.

The Brainerd Jaycees mentioned on Facebook that they are hoping Zac and this story go viral, so I'm certainly happy to do my part as it is quite a memorable story!

It'll be hard to top this at the 2024 Brainerd Jaycees Ice Fishing Extravaganza, but with an event of this magnitude, anything is possible.

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