With seven Top 10 finishes in the past 12 months, reigning Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year Michael Iaconelli is among the nominees for "Best Outdoor Athlete" at the 2007 ESPYs co-presented by Hummer and Under Armour.Hosts Jimmy Kimmel and LeBron James will be joined on stage at Hollywood's Kodak Theatre by the biggest stars in sports and entertainment at the 15th annual celebration of the top moments, most emotional stories and best performances from the past year in sports, televised at 9 p.m. ET Sunday, July 15, on ESPN.
Iaconelli, who is from Runnemede, N.J., discovered competitive bass fishing just after high school and set his sights on a career in his favorite sport. After just a few years as a pro, he reached the pinnacle of bass fishing, winning the 2003 Bassmaster Classic.
Since June 2006, Iaconelli, 35, has finished among the Top 20 in eight of 14 events. He has had Bassmaster Elite Series finishes of second (2007 Battle on the Border) fourth (2006 Capitol Clash), sixth ('06 Empire Chase) and 10th ('06 Sooner Run).
Iaconelli, who is now 19th in this season's Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings, has 29 Top 10 finishes overall in BASS competition. He has made it to the Bassmaster Classic eight times in his career and has earned almost $1.3 million in BASS prize money.
Kevin VanDam was the first fishing professional to win an ESPY, claiming the honor for Best Outdoors Athlete in 2002. Jay Yelas won the same award the following year. Women's Bassmaster Tour pro Tammy Richardson won the ESPY for "Best Angler" in 2006.
This year, Iaconelli will be up against four other nominees: mountaineer Samantha Larson, at 18 years old believed to be the youngest person to have climbed the "seven summits" — the highest peaks on each continent; mountaineer Ian McKeever, who has climbed six of the highest mountains on each continent since January 2007 and was expected today to summit the seventh, Denali; musher Lance Mackey, the back-to-back winner of the Iditarod and Yukon Quest international dog race; and runner Dean Karnazes, who ran 50 marathons in 50 days in all 50 states from September through November 2006.
For the fourth consecutive year, fans will determine the winners in all contested categories by voting, which starts today at www.espys.tv and ends at 11:59 p.m. ET July 7 (last year, more than 12 million votes were tabulated). The ESPYs include 19 "Best in Sport" categories, which pit athletes from different sports against each other, along with 17 individual sport categories and two sponsored awards. Additionally, the Arthur Ashe Courage Award will be presented to individuals whose contributions transcend sports, and the first Jimmy V Award for Perseverance will be presented to an individual whose performance has evoked emotion and provided inspiration to the sports world.