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ICAST 2022: Unexpected Winner of the Prestigious "Best of Show" Award

Longshot PacBak Coolers from Alaska takes the fishing trade show's biggest prize.

ICAST 2022: Unexpected Winner of the Prestigious "Best of Show" Award

PacBak won Best of Show at the 65th ICAST show in Orlando. (Photo by Lynn Burkhead)

As the 65th edition of the International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades (ICAST) Show continues in Orlando, it was easy to believe that one of the giants of the fishing industry would once again claim the Best of Show award Thursday afternoon.

But it was a longshot from Alaska that came away with the big prize at the Orange County Convention Center.

Upstart cooler company PacBak beat a number of well-known brands to win the 2022 award with its P88-MK Combo, a first-of-its-kind product that allows anglers to fillet and vacuum seal their catch and put it directly on ice.

In this case, many thought the Best of Show might go to a company like Pure Fishing, which had won nine Best of Category awards Wednesday as the parent company of well-known brands like Berkley (which won the award last year with the Berkley Gilly swimbait), Frabill, Ugly Stik, Plano and many more. The 30 Best-of-Category winners from Wednesday were all considered by voters for the top award.

Sometimes, a longshot beats the heavy favorite, much like famous underdog sports winners such as young amateur Francis Ouimet outlasting professional Harry Vardon in the 1913 U.S. Open in golf, or the U.S. Hockey team beating the U.S.S.R. in the 1980 Olympics, or the six-loss New York Giants beating the undefeated New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII in 2008.

While it might be a bit of a stretch to compare the Anchorage company's win to those stunning upsets, there still was a feel-good vibe as American Sportfishing Association president Glen Hughes made the surprising announcement in front of a sizeable crowd at the ICAST New Product Showcase center.

It's an incredible story with many layers of context, and one that we'll explore more fully in the days to come, but this is an unlikely dream come true, one that made a lot of people smile in Orlando.

The PacBak combo includes an 88-quart, multi-chambered cooler with a removable rechargable battery-operated vacuum sealer. It has three insulated chambers of separation, a built-in cutting board and a multi-position table to create an "all-in-one mobile kitchen," according to product specs. MSRP: $899

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