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Longest-Python Prize Awarded Twice Due To Mix-Up

Sixty-eight giant snakes. That’s how many hunters caught and killed during the Florida Python Challenge, which ended Feb. 10. A mix-up led to two hunters being awarded prize money for the longest snake.

Nearly 1,600 people from 38 states and Canada signed up for the Python Challenge. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission held the competition to help rid the Florida Everglades of invasive Burmese Pythons, a product of the exotic pet trade.

Prize money went to hunters who killed the most snakes and who bagged the longest python. Reuben Ramirez, of Miami, took top prize among people with a special python permit, with 18 pythons killed.

And because of a mix-up, Ramirez was also awarded top honors for longest snake on Saturday. But on Sunday, contest organizers realized that Blake Russ, of Fruitland Park, actually caught a python longer than Ramirez’s, at 11 feet, 1 inch. Russ had rereleased his prize-worthy snake with a tracking device.

Both he and Ramirez were allowed to keep their $1,000 prizes.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.