When we think of some of the most contentious rivalries on the planet, the likes of the Yankees and Red Sox, Blue Devils and Tar Heels or the Ali and Frazier feuds come to mind. But the Bubba Award for ‘Best Local Celebrity’ has created a bitter divide between two of the Keys’ most celebrated identities.
The coveted title of Best Local Celebrity has belonged to Howard Livingston since the inception of the Bubbas in 2014, as the Trop Rock legend now boasts five pieces of the winning hardware on his mantle at his Lower Keys home. Yet for Bill Hoebee, a nationally recognized shock jock on the local airwaves, the stigma of second place has become a tough pill to swallow.
“I just don’t see the appeal,” said Hoebee of Livingston. “Sure, he’s a talented musician. He has a beautiful wife. Everyone loves him, he gives back to incredible children’s charities, and he’s just an all around nice guy — but so what?”
Livingston sees the rivalry in a different light. For starters, he says he feels bad for Hoebee, even offering him one of his very own Bubba awards back in 2017.
“I know how much this means to the little guy,” said Livingston. “Back in ’17, I decided to be the bigger man and extend him an olive branch. I basically told him if he would do my dry cleaning and wash my car for an entire month, that I would let him have one of my awards for an entire day.”
But the gesture only fueled the rivalry, with Hoebee calling the offer “one of the lowest blows I ever received … except for that time I woke up broke and naked in Tijuana.”
Today, Livingston continues to leave the door open for a civil relationship between the two, but to date, he says Hoebee has yet to return his texts or calls.
“There is an old proverb that says small people cast the biggest shadows,” said Livingston. “I’m not sure what it means exactly, but I just hope Hoebee finds the peace he is searching for. But if he is searching for a Bubba award, he should probably start looking for it in a different category.”
This year, Hoebee and Livingston will be joined in the Best Local Celebrity category by newcomer Bucky Montgomery, who cannot be overlooked by the longtime rivals and may prove to be the dark horse in the race. Aside from Livingston claiming the Bubba for Local Celebrity since 2014, here is a look at a few others who have claimed their respected category for five years running.
LONGEST HELD TITLES
Best Local Celebrity
Howard Livingston (joined in 2019 by Bill Hoebee and Bucky Montgomery)
Best Ethnic Food
El Siboney (joined in 2019 by Kojin and MisoHappy).
Green Parrot (joined in 2019 by Irish Kevin’s, My New Joint and Two Friends Patio).
Best Wine Bar
Vino’s on Duval (joined in 2019 by Grand Vin and Uva Wine Shoppe).
El Meson de Pepe’s (joined in 2019 by Willie T’s and Bistro 245).
Roostica (joined in 2019 by Duetto Pizza & Gelato and Onlywood Pizzeria).
Prime Steakhouse (joined in 2019 by Tavern N’ Town and Michael’s).
Garbo’s (Joined in 2019 by Taco Grilla and Taco Express).
Better than Sex (joined in 2019 by Blue Heaven and Square Grouper).
Ambrosia (Joined in 2019 by Origami Sushi Bar and MisoHappy).
Best Elected Official
Craig Cates claimed the award five times but termed out as mayor in ’18. This year either Teri Johnston, Jimmy Weekley or Clayton Lopez will claim the prize.
Best Accounting Firm
Oropeza & Parks (Joined in 2019 by Niles, Kight & Company and Zuelch & Zuelch).
Best Watersports Company
Fury Water Adventures (Joined in 2019 by Danger Charters and Sunset Watersports).
First State Bank (Joined in 2019 by Keys Federal Credit Union, Centennial Bank).
Best Jewelry Store
(Joined in 2019 by Neptune Designs and Local Color).
Voting ends Friday, July 12 at midnight. Vote today at www.keysweekly.com/bubbas