Scott Milison raises his hands to signify he has finished cracking and eating 25 stone crab claws at the Keys Fisheries Stone Crab Eating Contest. Milison, a Chicago resident vacationing in the Florida Keys, won and broke the contest’s record turning in a time of 10 minutes and 17 seconds.

A Chicago man visiting the Florida Keys set a new record and took first place in the Keys Fisheries Stone Crab Eating Contest held Nov. 4.

Scott Milison triumphed over 39 other contestants, divided into individual and team divisions, in the raucous amateur eating competition in Marathon.

Contestants had to crack and eat 25 of the tasty stone crab claws and pick them completely clean in the fastest time. Participants received a 30-second penalty for each piece of claw meat left behind.

Milison set a new contest record with a final time of 10 minutes and 17 seconds, beating the previous record time of 10 minutes and 23 seconds. 

“So I think I just cracked the world record for stone crab — first place — bringing home the prize back to Chi-town,” Milison said following his victory. “No experience in any contest of eating.

“And to be able to enjoy stone crab was just a bonus,” he added.

Milison entered the competition on a spur-of-the-moment suggestion from family and friends, who traveled to the Keys with him to celebrate their November birthdays. 

Marathon residents Tom Zajac and Justin Hare claimed the top team title, finishing in 6 minutes and 7 seconds, setting a new team record. 

Stone crabs are considered a renewable resource because of the crabs’ ability to re-grow harvested claws. The Florida Keys are responsible for about half of the state’s stone crab harvest that averages about 2 million pounds annually, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. 

Keys Fisheries is the largest processor of stone crab claws in Florida.

Stone crab harvest season runs Oct. 15 to May 1.  

Photos by STEVE PANARIELLO/Florida Keys News Bureau