Record-Breaking Pumpkin Becomes Largest and Heaviest Jack-O-Lantern in the World

The second largest pumpkin in the world has now been named the largest and heaviest Jack-O-Lantern in the world. Three big titles for one massive gourd.

Travis Gienger, the pumpkin growing king from Anoka, Minn., won the title of second largest pumpkin at this year’s Safeway Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off with Maverick, his 2,560-pound gargantuan pal. After being displayed at the Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin festival following the competition, Gienger and Maverick made their way back to Anoka to reign in yet another pumpkin title—biggest Jack-O-Lantern in the world. 

That is, until Maverick also became the heaviest Jack-O-Lantern in the world. Both titles were awarded by Guinness World Records on Oct. 31, a few weeks after Gienger recruited Mike Rudolph to take on the challenge of turning the colossal pumpkin into a Top Gun-inspired spooky season emblem. Before the beak and feathers of Maverick’s glowing eagle image were created, a few ideas were thrown around for the award-winning Jack-O-Lantern.  

“We originally wanted to carve Maverick into the symbol of a helmet, like the one that Maverick wears in the movie,” Gienger explained. “But the shape just wasn’t going to work to get the clean lines and circular shape on such an irregularly shaped pumpkin. So, we went with an eagle instead.”

The pumpkin-turned-Jack-O-Lantern transformation took about 12 hours, two of those involving Rudolph carving from inside the pumpkin. Rudolph came equipped with his own pumpkin carving tools, and after nearly two hours of de-seeding and de-gutting, Maverick’s transformation began. The colossal veggie that’s the same size as a rhinoceros now has the eyes, feathers, and beak of a giant eagle, with talons holding two American flags, lit up from the inside. 

The pumpkin’s nickname came from more than Gienger’s love of the hit film. In the early days of Maverick’s growth, when the pumpkin weighed less than a pound, Gienger dropped a five-pound bucket of dirt on it and afterwards, had low expectations for the pumpkin to make a comeback from the accident.  

“No one, including me, really knew if it would make it,” Gienger said. “But it healed up quickly and Maverick seemed like the perfect name and comeback story. Little did we know Maverick would become the largest pumpkin ever grown outdoors!”  

And what a comeback Maverick made. The pumpkin-turned-eagle has been named both the largest and heaviest Jack-O-Lantern in the world, and sat at Anoka’s city hall through the duration for the city’s favorite holiday, Halloween. (Anoka’s deemed the Halloween capital of the world, after all. It was only fitting.)

As the weather gets cooler, Maverick has begun to reach the end of its days in the spotlight. Gienger and his gourd have returned to the garden where it all started – Gienger’s home in Anoka, to allow the pumpkin to complete its life cycle. But, Gienger assured us that Maverick’s legacy is far from forgotten. The pumpkin’s seeds are being sold through world-wide auctions and various clubs. 

“Those seeds could grow the next world record,” he said. “No problem.”   

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