Historical Accuracy (Q&A):
Did a hurricane damage the Casa Hogar orphanage?
Yes. The Blue Miracle true story confirms that Hurricane Odile damaged the building in mid-September 2014 when the storm hit Mexico's southern Baja California peninsula, wreaking havoc on the city of Cabo San Lucas. The cash-strapped Casa Hogar orphanage, which provided food, shelter and educational opportunities to underprivileged boys (and eventually girls too), was put under an even greater financial burden. An average of 40 boys called the then-six-year-old orphanage home at the time.
It's true that the Casa Hogar orphanage was damaged by Hurricane Odile in September 2014.
How long had Bisbee's Black & Blue Fishing Tournament been in existence?The 2014 competition marked the 34th year of the marlin fishing tournament, which is regarded as one of the most prestigious sportfishing tournaments in the world. Every year, over 150 teams each pay $5,000 to enter the tournament, with millions in prize money on the line.
Is Dennis Quaid's character, Wade Malloy, based on the real-life boat captain with whom the boys teamed up?
For the most part, no. Unlike Dennis Quaid's character in the Blue Miracle movie on Netflix, the real-life skipper of the boat that Team Casa Hogar chartered was not named Wade Malloy. The true story behind Blue Miracle reveals that the skipper's name is actually Ernie Cossio. He is a native who runs the successful charter fishing business Ernie's Cabo Fishing out of Cabo San Lucas.
Aside from their similar gruff appearances, Cossio doesn't share many similarities with Dennis Quaid's character, who is a washed-up fisherman. For one, we found no evidence that Cossio had ever previously cheated to win the tournament. Also, Capt. Ernie Cossio's vessel, nicknamed Mucho Bueno, is a much nicer and far more capable boat than the rundown vessel that Wade Malloy (Dennis Quaid) captains in the film, which is fittingly nicknamed Knot Enough. Making Wade a down-on-his-luck captain of a barely capable boat might make for a better underdog story, but it's not in line with reality.
Dennis Quaid's character, Wade Malloy, is mostly fictional.
How were the group of orphan boys and their caregiver able to enter the "World's Richest Fishing Tournament"?Much like in the Netflix Blue Miracle movie, in order to help Cabo San Lucas' impoverished, hurricane-ravaged communities, Bisbee's Fish & Wildlife Conservation Fund's "Cabo Relief Fund" was set up. It included the "Bisbee Cabo Charter Hook-up" that helped to put local charter captains back to work. An anonymous donor offered to pay the tournament's $5,000 entry fee through the fund for any team that paid to use a local boat in the Bisbee's Black & Blue Fishing Tournament. This allowed the boys of the Casa Hogar orphanage to enter, as well as 49 other teams. -HuffPost
Team Casa Hogar included 10 anglers: Juan Anaya, Eduardod Arnaut, Jonathan Bernal, Geovanny Cabanas, Ramon Carmona, orphanage director Omar Venegas, Capt. Ernie Cossio, Alan Galindo, Jose Galindo, and Moises Manriques. The boat they chartered for the competition was the Mucho Bueno (pictured below), a 36-foot 1998 Luhrs Convertible skippered by Ernie Cossio.
The real-life boat that Team Casa Hogar chartered, the Mucho Bueno (top), was much nicer than the rundown boat that is depicted in the movie, Knot Enough (bottom).
Did the skipper ask the orphans to be part of his team so that his entry fee would be waived?No. In order to compete with no entry fee in the fishing tournament in the movie, all teams must charter local boats or team up with local fishermen. This is done to help the struggling communities after the hurricane. The real-life skipper, Ernie Cossio, was a Cabo native, therefore he would not have had to pay an entry fee whether he teamed up with Casa Hogar or not. While approximately 50 of the 125 teams did employ local boat captains (partly because of an anonymous donor who paid for their entry fees), some employed neither local captains nor local fishermen.
Did the orphans really have zero fishing experience?
Yes. The Blue Miracle true story reveals that the director of the orphanage, Omar Venegas, did have fishing experience but the tournament was his first time fishing marlin. "We won the Bisbee's Marlin World Tournament … my first time fishing a marlin," angler Omar Venegas said after the win. "First time in a famous tournament and First Place, let me tell you ONLY GOD does this miracle. God, the only God, creator of all that exists today. He decided to bless Casa Hogar Cabo A.C. with this huge prize!" -BD Outdoors
Husband and wife Omar Venegas and Rebeca Rangel inspired Jimmy Gonzales and Fernanda Urrejola's characters in the Blue Miracle
How many teams entered Bisbee's Black & Blue Fishing Tournament in 2014?Just weeks after Hurricane Odile tore through the tournament's host city of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, 125 teams (some sources state 127) competed in the five-day marlin fishing tournament, which was held with the help of Dallas-based Bisbee's Fish & Wildlife Conservation Fund as well as various sponsors. In the end, $2.14 million in prize money was awarded to the winners of the competition. -Mexico News Daily
How long did it take Team Casa Hogar to reel in their prize-winning blue marlin?
While researching the question, "How accurate is Blue Miracle?" we learned that the team was able to subdue the large fish after a 43-minute battle. "We were at Destiladeras in the Sea of Cortez using live bait and caught nothing. The water temperature was 83 degrees. We switched and put a Hi-5 Petrolero Lure on and three minutes after it was in the water we got our bite," said Capt. Ernie Cossio, skipper of the team's vessel, the Mucho Bueno.
Who caught the winning blue marlin in real life?
While conducting our fact-check of the Netflix movie, we learned that like in the film, the operations director of the Casa Hogar orphanage, Omar Venegas, caught the 385-pound blue marlin.
Omar Venegas rests on the deck after his 43-minute battle with the 385-pound blue marlin. Photo: Casa Hogar de Cabo San Lucas A.C. Facebook
Did Team Casa Hogar donate all of the prize money to help keep the orphanage open?Yes. After angler Omar Venegas reeled in the biggest qualifying catch of the tournament, a 385-pound blue marlin, Team Casa Hogar was awarded the overall team prize for the fish, the tournament jackpot, and the Day Two $500 Daily Jackpot. The team, made up of 10 anglers plus crew members, also won the "Top Captain Award" for their angler captain, Ernie Cossio. In researching the Blue Miracle true story, we learned that Team Casa Hogar gave all of their $258,325 in prize money to the struggling orphanage that had been looking after the boys on the team. -Elite Traveler
Despite reeling in the biggest qualifying fish, Team Casa Hogar wasn't the top cash winner of the tournament. That honor went to the team Sporty Game, which caught a 337-pound blue marlin on the last day, which helped them earn a payout of $1.68 million. -Mexico News Daily
Casa Hogar orphanage operations director Omar Venegas stands next to the 385-pound blue marlin he reeled in during the tournament. Photo: Casa Hogar de Cabo San Lucas A.C. Facebook
Did tournament director Wayne Bisbee deem the competition a success?Yes. Initially, Wayne Bisbee didn't have high hopes that they would be able to pull off a successful tournament following the hurricane. "In all honesty, up until a couple weeks ago I thought we were going to rally whoever was here at the Baja Cantina, throw some money in a hat, and just go fishing to keep the tournament streak going," he said after the conclusion of the competition. "But thanks to all our fantastic anglers and sponsors, somehow we pulled it off and the results are just insane. We helped put a lot of people back to work, caught some good fish, and we’re definitely leaving Cabo in better shape than we found it." -Elite Traveler
Will the Casa Hogar orphanage benefit financially from the movie's release?
No. According to the orphanage's website, they state that "while there is no financial benefit to Casa Hogar for this movie, we are hopeful that Blue Miracle will raise awareness and sensitivity for private Social Assistance Centers in Mexico, most of which, like ours, operate as charities without government funding."
The Casa Hogar orphanage grounds in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico (pictured in 2020 following an earlier expansion).