LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Skeet Reese, 2009 Bassmaster Classic champion, was watching himself react to his 10-ounce victory on a television inside the Bassmaster studio.
On the screen, Reese was jumping in circles and screaming. In the studio, it was just two fists straight up in the air and a huge smile.
It had been almost three days since he lifted the trophy and etched himself forever into bass fishing history, but there hadn't been much time for processing.
After the win, he went to a press conference. From there, he was late to his own champion's toast at the Hilton in Shreveport, where he opened up the bar to anglers, media, and anyone smart enough to realize there was an open bar. Part of the reason for his tardiness was a quick stop at McDonalds for his champion's dinner.
"I hadn't eaten all day," he said. "I was starving."
Reese was in bed at 1 a.m. Monday morning and had to get up for the Mike and Mike show four hours later. The rest of Monday was full of Bassmaster Magazine shoots, ESPN's First Take morning show, and more media interviews than he had time.
His voicemail has room for 40 messages. Reese said it's filled up and been cleared out twice, and it's filling up again.
"I feel the difference in a Classic win vs. an Angler of the Year win," Reese said. "Even though as anglers, AOY is up on a pedestal, to the rest of the world, the Classic is the biggest event. I can sense that now."
He spent Tuesday on Lake Fork fulfilling a sponsorship promise he made to Lucky Craft long before the Classic.
"We had that planned for the last four months, and I wasn't going to back out," he said.
His next obligation was in Little Rock for the Bassmaster Classic show that will air this Saturday on ESPN2 at 9 a.m. ET.
The four hours from Sulphur Springs, Texas to Little Rock was the first time he'd had a chance to really talk to his wife, Kim, and two young daughters, who had been following him on every step of his post-Classic regimen. He finally began to process what had just happened.
"There was laughing, there was crying, there was everything," Reese said. "We were really able to enjoy the moment and reflect on what just happened and what that did for me and what it did for the sport."
So, what did it do for him? He's been set with sponsors for a few years, so he said outside the initial boost from the $500,000 for winning and his sponsor bonuses, he's doesn't see it making a huge impact on his wallet.
It's his reputation — his brand — is where he sees the most value in being Classic champion. Reese said one of the motivating factors for him in this Classic is the fact that none of the pundits were picking him.
"All I hear is river rats, KVD and all that," Reese said. "It was like nobody thought I knew how to catch a bass. So, yeah, I took it personally. I thought, 'I'm going to make you eat crow this week,' and I did."
Reese made it clear he wants to put his name on the same level as weekly pundit pick Kevin VanDam, who is almost always referenced as the best angler in the world — even by Reese.
"I'm not going to take anything away from Kevin, I mean, he's KVD," Reese said. "But I've earned my stripes. People see I'm not just a flash in the pan or a one-hit wonder.
"Do I want the respect of everybody? Yes. Do I have to earn it? Yes. I feel like I did it this week. It's not just the KVD show. He's not the only player in town."
It's hard to argue with Reese's numbers over the last few years. He won the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year award in 2007 and hasn't finished outside the top-10 in that race in five seasons. He won on Potomac River in 2007 on the Elite Series and added the Classic victory on Sunday.
"I want to win every tournament, and every title," Reese said. "Hopefully my career will keep going how it has been, and I'll have the titles to rival one of the greatest anglers to ever fish, and that's Kevin."
He's won the two biggest titles in the sport of bass fishing in a three-year span, but Reese said there's no contentment. His confidence is at an all-time high, and he's functioning on the mantra that, as he put it, "success breeds success in a lot of situations."
Three days into his victory, he's already talking about doing it again.
"You get greedy and once you get one, you want another," he said. "I feel like I can compete against anybody, anytime and win."