LEONARDTOWN, Md. – When legendary basketball coach Pat Riley coiled the term “three-peat,” he must have had oyster shucker Mike Martin in mind.
Martin won the U.S. National Oyster Shucking Championship for an unprecedented third straight year.
“I just had God behind me, I guess, the last three years,” said Martin, who lives in Panama Bay, Fla.
With the Sunday afternoon win at the St. Mary’s County Fairgrounds, Martin will represent the U.S. in an oyster schucking championship in Ireland next September.
Martin beat Cathy Milliken in the final by shucking 24 oysters in 2:43.16, 14 seconds faster than Milliken.
They both reached the national final by winning their respective men’s and women’s division heats earlier in the day. For that feat, each received a plaque and a $300 check, which seemed to suit Milliken just fine, since she didn’t win the ultimate prize.
“Oh my gosh, it’s unreal. I won the women’s, that’s good enough for me,” she said.
In the women’s final, Milliken, from North Carolina, took out the defending champion Clementine Macon.
Macon took defeat in stride.
“It was great,” Macon said.
After his win, Martin leaped onto edge of the stage, threw his hands in the air, and shouted, “No. 1.”
He’s still trying to get used to the fame that’s come with his oyster schucking success.
“I try to keep it low key down in Florida. I come up here, and I’m in the newspapers. Everyone comes up to me, they know my name, and I don’t know anybody up here.”