MARATHON, FL Keys (CBSMiami) — For the second consecutive year, Juan Mallen took top honors at the annual Stone Crab Eating Contest Saturday in the Florida Keys.
Mallen, a 50-year-old commercial appliance technician from Hialeah, Fla., cracked and ate 25 stone crab claws in the fastest time, 15 minutes and 6 seconds. But it did not beat the contest’s overall record he set last year with a time of 12:54.
The lively contest tasked competitors with picking cracked claws completely clean. No claw meat could be left uneaten, lest risking a time penalty.
“I’m very tense right now, excited, this is crazy, two years in a row, unbelievable,” Mallen said. “The secret to win the contest is to be very hungry first, then make sure you break everything first, then make sure about the knuckles.
“Eat as fast as you can,” he said.
Greg D’Agostino paired up with fellow Marathon, Fla., resident Ryan Beckett to claim their fourth consecutive top team title with a time of 9:55.
The Florida Keys is Florida’s leading regional supplier of the world-renowned delicacy — considered a renewable resource because of the crabs’ ability to re-grow harvested claws.
About 40 percent of the state’s stone crab harvest that averages more than 2 million pounds annually comes from Keys waters, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Stone crab harvest season began Oct. 15 and continues through May 15, 2018.