Anoka County pumpkin grower hopes to take home another world record

In his seemingly magical pumpkin patch, everything Travis Gienger touches turns to Guinness.

Gienger is a teacher at Anoka Technical College who just happens to grow giant pumpkins at his home northeast of Nowthen. He already has three Guinness World Records, and "Michael Jordan the Pumpkin" could bring him his fourth record: largest pumpkin by circumference. 

He will soon embark on a cross-country quest to find out if his gourd is record-breaking, as he has done in previous years. 

"It's not for fame or fortune or anything. It's just basically to put smiles on people's faces. People just love seeing a giant pumpkin," Gienger said. "People are enamored by the size of this thing."

Michael Jordan -- named because it started off basketball round and was grown in the year 2023 – is still growing after a warm fall. It has survived storms and hail and even outlived another larger pumpkin grown in the same patch.

"It's hard to believe, but this is the runt of the litter for this year, and we'll see what it can do," he said. "What we're going do is try and lift this thing with a bunch of straps and harnesses onto a pallet, and drive it 35 hours west."

The pumpkin will be left on the vine until the last possible second this weekend. Gienger and his pumpkin will drive to the World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off held in Half Moon Bay, California, which is on Oct. 9. The winner gets $9 a pound, and $30,000 for a world record.

Last year, Gienger grew Maverick the Pumpkin. At 2560 pounds, it was carved into the world's largest jack-o-lantern.

"[Michael Jordan] is bigger than Maverick around, but Maverick had a little bit more height," Gienger explained. 

Michael Jordan's competition will be pumpkins from across the world, including some grown from seeds that came from Maverick.