Pumpkin weighing 2,749 pounds wins California contest, tops previous world record

The world's largest pumpkin is named Michael Jordan, was grown in Anoka, Minnesota, and took first place at the 50th Annual Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off in Half Moon Bay, California, on Monday.

The 2,749-pound gourd not only earned grower Travis Gienger a $30,000 first-place prize and bragging rights for a year, it also topped the world's previous record-holding pumpkin by 47 pounds.

The sizable squash is named after "the greatest basketball player of all time and is now the greatest pumpkin of all time," Gienger said.

Gienger planted Michael Jordan on April 10 and spent about $15,000 on the pumpkin's care and feeding.

He picked it Saturday morning and then put it in a truck for the at-times harrowing trip to California.

"It was quite sketchy," Gienger said. "It's a 35-hour drive. You've got elk popping out at you, motorcyclists cutting you off, truckers, you've got mountains."


And while Gienger, now a three-time pumpkin champion, knew he had an impressive pumpkin, he didn't know how impressive until Monday since he never weighs his show produce before a competition.

"I don't believe in that," he said. "It's gonna be what it's gonna be and I want people to get a real reaction."

Michael Jordan, which weighs a bit less than the average adult female hippopotamus, will now anchor the Half Moon Bay Art and Pumpkin Festival as the centerpiece of a parade on Saturday at noon.

It will also be on display for all to see, along with the top four heaviest pumpkins from the weigh-off, from Oct. 14 to Oct. 15 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Main Street in Half Moon Bay, some 30 miles south of San Francisco.

"It was a spectacular day in Half Moon Bay and it's going to be a spectacular week that will culminate in the Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival," said event organizer Tim Beeman.

As for what the new pumpkin king plans to do with his winnings, Gienger said he plans to reinvest the money in another pumpkin-growing project.

"I can't quit now," he said.

His immediate future, however, appears to be less arduous.

"We're gonna have a growers lunch and we're gonna celebrate," Gienger said.

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