Minnesota man breaks world record with 2,749-pound gourd

Travis Gienger won the annual contest for the third time with his gourd weighing-in at 2,749 pounds, breaking a world record.

ByLena Howland KGO logo
Monday, October 9, 2023
Man squashes competition, breaks world record with 2,749-pound gourd
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Travis Gienger squashed the competition at the 50th annual Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-off with his gourd weighing-in at 2,749 pounds.

HALF MOON BAY, Calif. -- A Minnesota man won his third Half Moon Bay pumpkin weigh-off, taking home $30,000 in prize money, officials said on Monday.

Travis Gienger squashed the competition at the 50th annual World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-off with his pumpkin weighing in at 2,749 pounds, breaking a world record.

Gienger previously won in 2022 and in 2020. Last year's pumpkin weighed 2,560 pounds, and his 2020 pumpkin weighed in at 2,350 pounds.

Volkswagen-sized pumpkins went on display at the self-proclaimed pumpkin capital of the world at the annual contest.

"We picked it on Friday and it's estimating around 2,300 pounds," Ron Root, the 2010 pumpkin weigh-off champion said.

Growers of all ages from across the U.S. were in Half Moon Bay, hoping to take home the world title in the Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off.

They competed for not only bragging rights, but a ginormous payout too, at $9/pound.

"It has to be a labor of love, I always said this though, if there was no prize money involved, I never made a dime back, I would still do it, it's so much fun, today is so special," Nick Kennedy, a pumpkin grower out of the Sacramento area said. "Watching these things grow, this thing grew 66 pounds a day at its peak, so it's like watching a balloon blow up in front of you basically."

Kennedy competed from the Sacramento area. For him, it's a family affair.

"My son's also here today, he grew a beautiful orange pumpkin, it very much feels like a family," he said. "You see these people a couple times year and just feels like a bonding experience."

Backstage on Johnson Street, community members got to see and touch the pumpkins for themselves.

"This is the most exciting part, going down Johnson Street because the stage is kind of far away, so you really can't see them, but it's great to see all of the efforts and talk to the farmers," said Barbara Correia, a Half Moon Bay resident.

Organizers said they were required to buy a new industrial scale this year because of the sheer size of Gienger's pumpkin. The new one can hold up to 5 tons!

"I said, this thing's not going to weigh on a 4' by 4' scale, I said it needs something bigger," Gienger said. "I mean the thing's 7'5" long by 6'7" so it's pretty big, but yeah they had to buy a new scale for it."

As for Gienger, he came to the contest hoping to take care of some unfinished business. He shattered the North American record last year, and he had his sights set on breaking the world record, which came with a $30,000 prize.

At one point, it was held by a man in Italy at 2,703 pounds.

"This thing's been surprising, this thing is named Michael Jordan because it's 23 and the greatest basketball player of all time, so only thing we gotta figure out is if it's the greatest pumpkin of all time," he said.

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The previous Guinness World Record for longest journey by pumpkin boat was 25.5 miles.