Major League Fishing announced today that Toyota will be the title sponsor for Heavy Hitters, which gets under way on Sunday at the Kissimmee Chain in Florida. The event serves as the return event of the 2020 Bass Pro Tour and features a $745,000 purse and the full field of 80 anglers, including Team Toyota pros Kevin VanDam, Mike Iaconelli, Terry Scroggins, and Jacob Wheeler.
“It makes perfect sense for Toyota to title-sponsor our inaugural Heavy Hitters event,” said Major League Fishing president and CEO Jim Wilburn. “As a trusted partner, Toyota embraces our league’s unique opportunity to showcase entertaining formats of competitive bass fishing that both teach trusted techniques from the best anglers in the world and invite new fans to the sport.”
“We’re looking forward to the excitement on the water with Heavy Hitters,” said Matt Ozawa, engagement marketing manager, Toyota Motor North America. “It’s a great opportunity to expand our partnership with MLF and FLW as well as support our Team Toyota anglers and engage with both new and longtime fans.”
Added Wheeler: “The greatest thing about being able to work with a company like Toyota is that they not only support anglers like me and the other Team Toyota pros, but they also support fishermen at all levels through their Toyota Bonus Bucks program. And now for them to become the title sponsor of our biggest event with hundreds of thousands of dollars in prizes, that’s huge for the sport of bass fishing.”
Originally scheduled for May 16-20 as an All-Star mid-season qualifier, Heavy Hitters will take place on Lake Tohopekaliga (Toho) and the Kissimmee Chain two weeks later than originally planned due to a mid-season pause to minimize the spread of COVID-19. The event features all 80 MLF pros in a traditional six-day, Bass Pro Tour format while still offering an untraditional $745,000 purse and full-field payout. Heavy Hitters will serve as Stage Four toward the season-long Bass Pro Tour Points Championship, awarded to the angler with the most points at the conclusion of the season.
In addition to the traditional payout schedule based on finishing order, the biggest bass caught for each Group over the two-day Qualifying Rounds (June 7-10) will pay a $25,000 big bass bonus ($50,000 total). The Knockout Round on day 5 (June 11) will feature a $50,000 big bass bonus, while the Championship Round (June 12) will feature a $100,000 big bass bonus, on top of the Stage Title $100,000 prize.
In response to the shortened season, MLF revised the payout schedule for Heavy Hitters to include all 80 anglers: 1st - $100,000; 2nd - $40,000; 3rd - $15,000; 4th - $13,000; 5th - $12,000; 6th - $11,000; 7th - $10,000; 8th - $9,000; 9th - $8,000; 10th - $7,000; 11th – 20th - $6,000; 21st – 40th - $5,000; 41st – 80 - $4,000.
Live-streamed coverage will run from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day on MLFNOW!, the Major League Fishing app or MyOutdoorTV (MOTV). MLF will also release six 2-hour episodes of original programming scheduled to air later this year on the Discovery Channel, as well as a CBS special set to release in December 2020.