KEY WEST (CBS4) – The 12th time was the charm for a 64-year old biomedical engineer from Jensen Beach. Saturday night Matt Gineo was named the 2011 winner of the Ernest “Papa” Hemingway look-alike competition in Key West.
Dressed in a wool fisherman’s sweater to resemble Hemingway’s look in a famous Yousuf Karsh photo, Gineo bested 120 other entrants after an unprecedented tie-breaker vote.
Gineo credited his win to persistence learned from Hemingway’s example and wearing the sweater he called “steaming hot.”
“This was something that I had in my heart to do and I knew I would accomplish it, but I didn’t know how many years it would take,” Gineo said.
The annual Hemingway Days festivities salute the literary giant who lived and wrote in Key West throughout the 1930s.
Finalists garbed in Hemingwayesque sportsman’s attire were judged by past winners at Sloppy Joe’s Bar, a watering hole frequented by the late author. Crowds cheered their favorites as they paraded onstage, took turns speaking and cavorted to the Village People’s song “Y.M.C.A.”
Gineo said he shares Hemingway’s fondness for sport fishing and has done some writing.
Appearing jubilant and emotional after his victory, he likened the feeling to winning a major sporting event.
“Winning the Le Mans 24 Hours, the Indianapolis 500, the national pennant — it’s all in one,” he said. “There’s nothing like achieving something that you’ve been working hard for, for 12 years.”
Other finalists included Arne Inge-Mathisen of Gjettum, Norway, who wore a black armband to commemorate the victims of Friday’s attacks on Norway’s government headquarters and a youth retreat.
During his Key West years, Ernest Hemingway wrote classics including “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and “To Have and Have Not.”
Hemingway Days events included an offbeat “Running of the Bulls,” literary readings, a marlin tournament and a short story competition directed by author and Hemingway granddaughter Lorian Hemingway.
(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Florida Keys News Bureau contributed to this report.)