Marriage Proposal at Classic Expo

Talk about turning lemons into lemonade.

A.J. Ison, of Pikeville, Kentucky — a longtime Skeeter Boats customer and diehard Kentucky Wildcats fan — lost a bet to Skeeter dealer Andy Cole, who roots for the University of Tennessee. The wager — wear the other guy’s team colors.

Painful, to be sure, but Ison had a brainstorm: First, don the dreaded orange T-shirt in the Skeeter booth at the Bassmaster Classic Expo; then, turn the spectacle into an unforgettable moment for him and a special person.

See, Ison and his girlfriend, Kelli Sparks, have known one another since high school, they work together at Pikeville Medical Center and he figured it was time to make things official.

So, with family, Skeeter staff and yours truly facilitating the ruse, Ison asked Sparks to join him on the deck of a floor model — for morale support, you know. (Wink, nod).

After publicly enrobing himself with the Tennessee T-shirt, Ison parlayed a statement about the Classic’s ability to change someone’s life into his desire for a life-changing moment. Assuming the traditional kneeling position, he pulled out the ring and extended it to a now teary-eyed lady surrounded by friends and strangers applauding a most unique Bassmaster Classic moment.

Her response: “Yes!”

Lots of hugging, kissing, more tears of joy — basically, a fairy tale moment on the deck of a Skeeter bass boat.

“I had no idea,” a clearly surprised Sparks said. “We love fishing, we live on the lake, so this couldn’t have been any more perfect. This is our Superbowl; we live it, it’s a great atmosphere and (the engagement) just puts the icing on the cake.”

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