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2 Minnesotans win giant pumpkin weigh-offs, setting records

The gargantuan gourds earned them thousands in prize money.
Travis Gienger grew a pumpkin that weighs more than 2,000 pounds.

Travis Gienger grew a pumpkin that weighs more than 2,000 pounds.

Two Minnesotans have grown gigantic gourds this year, earning them spots in the record books. 

Travis Gienger of Anoka made the 35-hour trek to California for the Safeway Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off on Monday, where his pumpkin, which he named The Tiger King after the Netflix hit show, tipped the scales at a whopping 2,350 pounds, the event's Facebook page said.

The prodigious pumpkin earned him $16,450 (winning pumpkins get $7 per pound) and was the heaviest pumpkin weighed in North America this year, event organizers said.

According to a video posted to the event's Facebook page, Gienger, who has been growing giant pumpkins for a while, "white-knuckled" it all the way from Minnesota to California, hoping the pumpkin wouldn't crack en route to the competition.

He told KPIX 5 that to get the pumpkin to Califonia safely, they "wrapped it in wet blankets, tarp over that, air tarp over that. We actually put it in dirt, then buckets of water. Every gas station we stopped, we watered it down." 

Minnesota record

A little closer to home, Charlie Bernstrom, of Lancaster, Minnesota, won the 15th annual Stillwater Giant Pumpkin Weigh-Off on Saturday with his 1,990.5-pound fruit (fun fact: a pumpkin is technically a fruit).

His nearly one-ton pumpkin earned him the $5,000 grand prize and a place in the state record book. 

It also squashed the previous state record of 1,918 pounds, set in 2018 by Chris Qualley, the Pioneer Press notes.

Bernstrom has been growing giant pumpkins for eight years, and hopes that next year he'll break the 2,000-pound mark, he told MPR News, adding that enormous pumpkins grow 30-50 pounds a day, so it's "pretty fun to watch."

Following the weigh-off, Bernstrom sold his giant pumpkin to a Louisiana man who plans to carve it and put it on his front lawn, MPR notes.

Although Gienger and Bernstrom grew gargantuan gourds, they didn't quite break the world record. The Guinness World Record for the heaviest pumpkin is 2,624.6 pounds. The record was set in 2016 with a pumpkin grown by Mathias Willemijns of Belgium. 

Both pumpkin weigh-offs were streamed live online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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