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'Oh my gourd': Man sets world record for heaviest pumpkin ever grown

A Minnesota horticulture teacher won the world record for heaviest pumpkin at a competition in California.
Posted at 5:43 PM, Oct 10, 2023

A Minnesota man's garden just got him a Guinness World Record ripe for this time of year.

Horticulture teacher Travis Gienger of Anoka, Minnesota, took home the prize Oct. 9 after the 50th World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off, at which his 2,749-pound pumpkin took first place while simultaneously winning the prize for heaviest pumpkin the world's ever recorded.

Video from the Half Moon Bay, California, competition shows the moment the 43-year-old realized he was taking home the gold for the pumpkin he named Michael Jordan, a nod to the year 2023 and "the greatest basketball player of all time," he told KSTP.

"Oh my God, Half Moon Bay is in the record book. That's a world record!," an announcer can be heard exclaiming.

Gienger's gargantuan gourd he lugged across the country was 47 pounds heavier than the previous world record pumpkin, set by an Italian grower in 2021, and 189 pounds heavier than the previous North American record, according to Guinness World Records.

"I was not expecting that. It was quite the feeling," Gienger said, according to The Associated Press.

Though it may have been an unexpected feat, it's surely a welcome one for Gienger, who has been growing pumpkins for nearly 30 years. 

He inherited the knack from his father, who also grew pumpkins, and competed in his first Half Moon Bay weigh-off in 2020, winning three of the last four competitions.

But this year, he put in extra work, watering his backyard pumpkin patch up to 12 times a day and feeding and fertilizing them more than usual.

That extra work has landed him a payout of $30,000, which is double the amount he spent caring for it, according to Bay City News.

Gienger's pumpkin and the three runner-ups will be on display in Half Moon Bay's Art and Pumpkin Festival through next weekend.