World records come in many shapes and sizes. Some of them are the result of nature or genetics, while others are the result of immense training, technical skill, and a lot of discipline and motivation. We love reading about world records, because we are always curious to discover the extreme limits of our abilities. Here are 42 facts about world records and the people, animals, and things that set and broke them that will surely make your jaw drop.
1. Origin of the Guinness World Records
If you ever wondered if there was a connection between the Guinness World Records and Guinness beer, then I’m happy to tell you that there is. The immensely popular annual book of world records was the brainchild of Sir Hugh Beaver, the managing director of Guinness Breweries. On a hunting trip, Beaver got into a debate with his friends over which game bird is the fastest—the golden plover or the red grouse.
Realizing that there was no quick reference guide to settle the question or the numerous other questions that arise in bars and at parties, Beaver thought a compendium of world records would be a very useful resource. The first book was released in 1955 and became an instant success.
2. Imagine These on a Chalkboard
For decades, Shridhar Chillal was known for having the world’s longest fingernails. Chillal started growing the fingernails on his left hand as a schoolboy in India. He accidentally broke his teacher’s long fingernail and was told that he would never understand the care and discipline needed to grow a long fingernail. It turns out Chillal did, because he went 66 years without cutting his own fingernails.
When they were last measured, the combined length of his fingernails measured in at 29 feet 10 inches. The extreme length of his nails has come at a price though as they have rendered his left hand disfigured and functionless. He finally cut them off in 2018 at a ceremony in the Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum in New York’s Times Square where the cut nails are currently on display.
3. The Stilt Drops a Century
In a 1962 game featuring the Philadelphia Warriors and New York Knicks, Warriors center and basketball icon Wilt Chamberlain set the record for most points by an individual player in an NBA game by scoring a gobsmacking 100 points. Chamberlain played the entire 48 minutes, shot 36 for 63 from the field, went 28 for 32 from the foul line, and also added 25 rebounds for good measure. The record still stands today.
The closest any other player has come to the Chamberlain’s 100-point mark was Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant, who scored 81 points in a game against the Toronto Raptors in 2006.
4. Crushing World Records for Charity
Having one world record is a pretty impressive feat; having 69 world records under your belt is extraordinary. That’s exactly what Suresh Joachim has been doing for the last two decades. His world records feature a wide array of accomplishments. For instance, his wedding to his wife Christa featured a record 79 bridesmaids, 47 groomsmen, and the world’s longest bouquet. He holds the world record for balancing on one foot, doing so for a mind-boggling 76 hours and 40 minutes.
Other world records include longest distance travelled on an escalator, most distance moonwalked in a 24-hour span, and the longest radio broadcast. Even more impressive, Joachim has donated proceeds from many of these record-breaking stunts to charity.
5. World Record World Record Holder
The king of serial world record breakers is Ashrita Furman. Furman has set over 600 Guinness World Records, with nearly 200 of them still standing. The first official world record set by Furman was in 1979 when he performed 27,000 jumping jacks. Other records include fastest time to pogo-stick up Toronto’s CN Tower, fastest mile ran set while balancing a baseball bat on his fingertips, and most hopscotch games in a 24-hour span.
Furman’s predilection for breaking world records stems from his devout following of spiritual leader Sri Chinmoy, who encouraged Furman to participate in a 24-hour bicycle race in New York City where he finished third. In honor of what would be Sri Chinmoy’s 85th birthday, Furman set the record for most candles on a birthday cake with 72,585. That’s a lot of wishes!
6. The World’s Tallest Structure in…North Dakota???
Here’s a fun trivia question for your next cocktail party, for much of the latter half of the 20th century, what was the tallest structure in the world? You might hear guesses like Toronto’s CN Tower, Chicago’s Sears Tower, or New York’s World Trade Center. However, the world’s tallest structure wasn’t in any major metropolis, but rather in a small town in North Dakota.
At a height of the 2,063 feet or 629 metres, the KLVY-TV mast, a television transmitter tower in Blanchard, North Dakota, towered over all structures in the world. It was only surpassed in 2008 by the Burj Khalifa in Dubai and remains the world’s fourth tallest structure in the world.
7. Go Flo-Jo, Go!
American Florence Griffith-Joyner might just be the greatest female track and field athlete of all time. Why? Because the world records she set in the women’s 100m and 200m dashes way back in 1988 still stand to this day. In contrast, the men’s 100m record has been broken eight times since ’88 and the men’s 200m record has been broken four times.
8. People Love Their Bollywood Music
While a certain problematic Swedish gamer may hold the title for most YouTube subscribers, T-Series, the YouTube channel of the popular Bollywood music imprint, is still the runaway leader in terms of total views. The popular channel has over 55 total billion views. Its nearest competitors are the official WWE YouTube channel, which has 28 billion views and Ryan ToysReview, which has 26 billion views.
9. Joey Chestnut: American Hero
There are many great Fourth of July traditions. The cookouts, the cheesy red, white, and blue outfits, the fireworks, and of course the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest that takes place on Coney Island in New York City every Independence Day. And for over the last decade, one man has been a dominant force at the gluttonous competition and his name is Joey Chestnut.
After Japanese competitive eater Takeru Kobayshi won six consecutive titles at the start of the century, the American Chestnut repatriated the mustard-yellow belt in 2007 and has won every year since. At the 2018 contest, Chestnut broke his own record once again, by scarfing down 74 hot dogs in ten minutes.
10. Meeting of the Extremes
On November 13, 2014 in London, two extremely special people met. They were Sultan Kösen and Chandra Bahadur Dangi—at the time the world’s tallest and shortest persons, respectively. Kösen, who is from Turkey, stands at a towering 8 feet 9 inches, while Dangi, who is from Nepal, measures in at 1 foot 9 inches. Dangi was the shortest man in recorded history. Sadly, Dangi passed on in 2015 at the age of 2015.
11. This Rabbit is a Slam Dunk
Bini is not your average bunny. He can paint, vacuum, comb his hair, and perhaps most impressively, dunk a basketball. Bini holds the world record for most basketballs dunked by a rabbit in a minute with seven. Hope he has an agent, because he would be perfect in the upcoming Space Jam sequel. Let’s make it happen Hollywood!
12. History’s Tallest Person
Robert Wadlow of Alton, Illinois is the tallest man in recorded history, whose final height was 8 feet 11 inches. Throughout his life, he became a celebrity regularly touring with the Ringling Brothers Circus and with the International Shoe Company, who fitted his size 37 AA feet with shoes free of charge. By he was eight years old Wadlow was already 6 feet tall.
Wadlow’s immense height was the result of hyperplasia of his pituitary gland, which caused him to grow well into adulthood. The constant growing forced him to wear braces on his ankles. Sadly, one of these braces caused an infection that ultimately led to his untimely death at the age of 22.
13. The Longest Game and Then Some
Cricket is already a very time-consuming sport. In Test cricket—one of the sport’s primary formats—a match can last five days and even still, might not have a declarative winner. To ensure there was always a definitive result, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the organizers of the sport instituted so-called Timeless Tests, which would go continuously until there was a winning team. The longest of these matches was a 1939 contest in which the visiting England team took on South Africa in Durban.
The match lasted 10 days (though over 13 days, because one of the days was a rained out and Sundays were used as rest days). And even with all that extended time, there was still no winner! The match had to be called off, because the England team had to catch a train back to Cape Town, in order to take a waiting steamboat back home. The looming threat of World War II forced England to not delay their departure even further.
14. History’s Oldest Person
Jeanne Calment is widely considered to be the oldest person who has ever lived. The Frenchwoman was born on February 21, 1875, and lived to the age of 122 years and 164 days, before passing on August 4, 1997. As far as is known, there was no particular cause for her longevity. She had a healthy appetite and remained very active physically, which allowed her to walk without a cane until the age of 114.
One notable event in her life was meeting the artist Vincent Van Gogh, when he visited her uncle’s shop in Arles, France in 1888, when Calment was only 12 years old.
15. New Meaning to the Phrase “Slow and Steady Wins the Race”
The world’s oldest known living land animal is a tortoise named Jonathan who is reportedly 186 years old. Jonathan is thought to have been hatched in the year 1832. Originally from the Indian Ocean archipelago the Seychelles, he was brought to the island of Saint Helena in the South Atlantic Ocean in the year 1882, where he has been living ever since. Although he has lost much of his eyesight, his sense of smell, and has trouble detecting his food, he is still thought to be healthy. In 2016, Jonathan was given a new diet to help prolong his life even further.
16. The Largest Unboxing
Whether it’s for sneakers, makeup, children’s toy or the latest tech gadget, unboxing videos are all the rage on the Internet. To capitalize on the trend, in 2017 Volvo commissioned the world’s largest unboxing. Volvo enlisted a three-year-old named Joel to open up an 80 foot long, 14 feet wide, and 18 foot high box that they designed to look like a toy box. Inside, however, was not a toy, but an actual big rig Volvo truck.
17. Not Exactly a Day at the Beach
In 2017, a German travel agency set the record for the world’s tallest sandcastle. The intricately designed structure reached a height of 54 feet 9 inches. The build required 168 trucks to deliver the 3,5000 tons of sand and over a month to complete. The design incorporated many popular European travel destinations like the Acropolis in Greece and the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
18. The Ultimate Sugar Rush
The world’s tallest cupcake tower was constructed in South Africa in 2017. The gargantuan tower of sweets reached a height of 35 feet 4 inches or 10.77 meters. The tower was constructed by the Cupcakes of Hope Cancer Foundation, with all proceeds from the event going towards stem cell implant treatment.
19. A Tall Tail of Two Cats
Michigan couple Lauren and Will Powers were the owners of two record breaking cats. Cygnus held the record for the longest tail by a domestic cat, which measured in at 17.58 inches or 44.66 cm. Their other cat Arcturus held the record for being the tallest cat at 19.05 inches or 48.4 cm. Unfortunately, this tale has a sad end as the two felines perished in a house fire in 2017.
20. I, For One, Welcome Our New Dancing Robotic Overlords
The robot is a wedding dance floor staple, but this type of robotic dancing is on an entirely different level, mainly because it involved actual robots. In 2018 at the San Remo Music Festival in Rome, Italy, 1,372 miniature robots completed the record for most robots dancing simultaneously.
21. The Master of Nature Specials
You might be most familiar with Sir David Attenborough for being the host for a variety of documentaries and specials on natural history and wildlife, most notably Planet Earth. In fact, Attenborough has been doing this for a while. According to Guinness, he holds the world record for longest career as a television presenter or host. This career started way back in 1953 when he was the presenter for the children’s nature program Animal Disguises on the BBC.
22. I Like to Score It, Score It
In a 2002 Madagascar soccer league match, AS Adema won against SO l’Emryne by a final tally of 149-0, setting the world record for the largest scoreline in a soccer match. Just a reminder a soccer match is only 90 minutes long, meaning that this match on average had more than one goal a minute! While the match was an official result, it should be marked with an asterisk.
SO l’Emryne intentionally lost this match in protest of poor refereeing decision that disadvantaged them earlier in the season. In fact, each of the 149 goals were actually their own goals, scored by SO l’Emryne onto their own net.
23. So Good, You Have to Move
The record for largest scoreline in an international soccer match is a little more legitimate. In a 2001, World Cup qualifying match, Australia racked up 31 goals to American Samoa’s 0. The 31-0 scoreline included 13 goals scored by Archie Thompson, the record for most goals scored by a single player in an international match. Australia had such an easy time in the Oceanic regional qualifying tournaments, that in 2006 they decided to move to the Asian Football Confederation in the hopes of a more balanced and competitive opponents.
24. Being Out of This World
Russian cosmonaut Gennady Pedalka holds the world record for most time spent in space. Over five separate missions, he has spent 878.480 days in space. He has spent time at both Mir and the International Space Station. Pedalka completed his last mission to space in 2015 before announcing his retirement. Is it still a world record if it took place in outer space?
25. Stay Golden Datta
Indian businessman Datta Phuge loved gold. He loved the precious metal so much that he commissioned a shirt made out of it. The shirt cost a reported $250,000 and Guinness considers it to be the world’s most expensive shirt. When images of his ostentatious shirt made out of pure 22 karat gold, weighing over six pounds made the rounds on the Internet in 2013, Phuge became a sensation. However, it perhaps made him too much of a sensation. In 2016, Phuge was brutally beaten by a group of men in a dispute over money and passed from his injuries.
26. Gone With the Box Office Bucks
When adjusted for inflation, the highest grossing motion picture of all time is the 1939 Technicolor epic Gone With the Wind. The film, which takes places around the time of the American Civil War and stars Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable, was an immense hit when it first came out, becoming the highest grossing movie up to that point. According to Box Office Mojo, it still holds the world record when taking into account ticket price inflation. As of 2018, it has racked in an estimated adjusted gross of $1,846,687,900.
27. A Movie Caught in a Time Warp
The Rocky Horror Picture Show was first released in 1975 and since then has amassed a cult following unlike any other film. It holds the record for the longest-running theatrical release in movie history, as it is still technically in limited release. The tradition of midnight screenings of Rocky Horror, with audience members dressed up as characters from the film, dates back to 1976 and the Waverly Theatre in New York City.
28. The Bollywood Movie That Knows No End
As far as continuous runs in a single movie theatre go, no other movie can hold a candle to Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge. The 1995 Bollywood blockbuster was a constant presence on the marquee of the Mumbai’s Maratha Mandir Theatre. When the theater owners announced in 2015 that they would be canceling the screenings of the movie, devotees got furious and protested. The organizers eventually backtracked on their plans and the screenings continued.
29. Strap on Your Skates Gordie, You’re Going In
Fans and commentators referred to legendary NHL star Gordie Howe as Mr. Hockey for his point-scoring, his physical play, and ultimately, his longevity. His records of most games played (1,767), most professional seasons (32), and the oldest player to ever play in the NHL at the age of 52, will most likely never be broken. In 1997, he set one more record when he lined up for the Detroit Vipers of the International Hockey League at the age of 69.
As a result, he became the first and only hockey player to play professionally in six different decades.
30. Earth’s Oldest Living Organism
Pando is a cluster clonal colony trees located in Fishlake National Forest in Utah. The cluster contains one massive root system, making it a singular living organism. Scientists have carbon-dated the root system to be 80,000 years old, which makes it the oldest known living organism on Earth. Pando covers 43 hectares and scientists estimate that it weighs around 6,600 short tons or 6,000,000 kilograms.
31. That’s A Lot of Hair Product
In 2011, Japanese fashion designer Kazuhiro Watanabe took hairstyles to new heights when he set the record for the tallest Mohawk. The hairdo measured in at 44.68 inches or 113.5 centimeters. To achieve the look, Watanabe and his team took two hours, three cans of hairspray, and an entire jar of gel.
32. This Ain’t From an Ice Cream Truck
Serendipity 3 in New York serves the world’s most expensive dessert. The Frrrozen Haute Chocolate isn’t your average sundae, as it features a blend of 28 exquisite cocoas, 5 grams of edible gold, and it comes in a gold-leaf plated goblet that features a diamond bracelet. It also includes a gold and diamond spoon that diners can take home. The final price tag for this dessert is $25,000.
33. The Most Expensive Painting
Leonardo da Vinci’s painting Salvator Mundi, a portrait of Jesus Christ holding a crystal orb, is currently the most expensive painting to have ever been sold. It was purchased at auction by the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture & Tourism for $450.3 million. The Abu Dhabi Department of Culture & Tourism plan to display the work, which was originally painted in the year 1500 by the Italian master, at the Louvre Abu Dhabi.
34. A Show Without End
In December 2018, The Simpsons celebrated 30 years of being on television. The wildly popular animated series about Springfield’s most notorious family. The show is the world’s longest-running sitcom with 649 episodes and counting and is the longest-running American primetime series by both episodes and seasons.
35. Maybe It’s Not Maybelline
Chinese woman You Jinxia holds the record for the world’s longest eyelashes. The longest of her eyelashes measures in at 4.88 inches or 12.40 centimeters. She broke the record previously set by Canadian Gillian Criminsi, whose eyelashes measured in 3.17 inches or 8.07 centimeters. Jinxia first noticed her ultra-long lashes on an 18-month nature retreat.
36. The World’s Richest Man
Jakob Fugger was a very wealthy German merchant in the 15th-16th centuries. He had entrepreneurial interests in textiles, silver and copper mining, and banking. When adjusted for inflation, his net worth clocks in at $400 billion, which is more than the 19th century American industrial tycoons John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie.
37. Speed Racer
In 1997, the ThrustSSC jet-propelled vehicle set the world’s land speed record. In the Jordanian desert, the British-built vehicle achieved a speed of 763 miles per hour or 1,228 kilometers per hour. By achieving these very fast speeds, the ThrustSSC became the first land vehicle to break the sound barrier.
38. Crack that Whip!
American April Choi knows her way around a whip. She holds four world records recognized by Guinness involving whips. These include most eggs broken by a whip in 30 seconds with 17, most whip crack while slacklining in one minute with 127, and most newspapers split using a whip in one minute with 22. Her most impressive feat is removing four Jenga blocks using a whip in a single minute. Remember, Choi is an expert; so don’t bust out the whip during your next family game night.
39. Longest Reigning Monarch
King Louis XIV for France holds the record as the longest-reigning monarch. The Sun King reigned for 72 years from 1643 to death in 1715. The closest monarch to get to Louis XIV’s record is King Rama IX of Thailand, who reigned over the Southeast Asian nation for 70 years. The current longest-reigning monarch is Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, who has been Queen for 68 years and counting.
40. Conquering a Fear and Setting a Record in 582 Steps
Hunter Ewen holds the record for blowing up the most balloons by an individual in one hour, with 582. What’s noteworthy of this accomplishment is that Ewen had a childhood fear of balloons. He explained to Guinness, “I didn’t blow up a balloon for 15 years and I thought this might be a fun way to get over that fear.”
41. That’s A Lot of Notifications
Who doesn’t love chicken nuggets? Carter Wilkerson certainly does. In 2017, Wilkerson tweeted at Wendy’s, asking how many retweets it would take to get a year of chicken nuggets. The infamous Wendy’s account replied, 18 million. While Wilkerson didn’t reach that many retweets, he did get over 3.5 million, becoming the most retweeted post in Twitter history—unfortunately, another user outdid his record in 2019.
However, Wilkerson was able to work out a deal with the fast food chain to get $1000 worth of nuggs. His Internet notoriety even landed him a cameo in Katy Perry’s music video for “Swish Swish”.
42. A Natural Nutcracker
Mr. Cherry is a Japanese man who loves breaking world records. Guinness has recognized him many times for a series of wide array of outlandish stunts. However, the most outlandish is arguably setting the record for most walnuts cracked with his rear-end in a minute with 108. Just think of the amount of squats needed to prepare for such a nutty world record!