Minnesota Horticulture Teacher Wins California Contest for Pumpkin Weighing 2,350 lb

October 19, 2020 Updated: October 19, 2020

HALF MOON BAY, California. Being cooped up at home due to the pandemic paid handsomely for a Minnesota horticulture teacher who used the extra time to constantly water and feed a massive pumpkin that won this year’s Half Moon Bay pumpkin contest.

Travis Gienger, of Anoka, Minnesota, spent a lot of his free time in the pumpkin patch in his backyard, watering his plants up to 10 times a day and feeding and fertilizing them at least twice each day.

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People lift a pumpkin onto a scale to be weighed at the Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off in Half Moon Bay, Calif., Monday, Oct. 12, 2020. (Jeff Chiu/AP Photo)

Gienger, 40, then drove his gargantuan gourd for 35 hours to see his hard work pay off at the 47th World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off in Half Moon Bay, south of San Francisco, where his winner came in at 2,350 pounds (approx. 1,066 kg).

“It was nerve-wracking because with every bump on the road I kept thinking, ‘is it going to make it?’” “And then finally it got weighed, it was the last one, and oh, my gosh, it’s been incredible!” Gienger said.

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Travis Gienger, from Anoka, Minn., poses next to his pumpkin, which weighed in at 2,350 pounds, to win the Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off in Half Moon Bay, Calif., Monday, Oct. 12, 2020. (Jeff Chiu/AP Photo)

Gienger, a landscape and horticulture teacher at Anoka Technical College, has been growing pumpkins since he was a teenager, inspired by his father, who also grew them. It was his first time competing at the Half Moon Bay weigh-off, but he’s not sure he’ll be back next year. “I might need a year off from the work and the nerves and everything,” he said, laughing.

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Judges measure a large pumpkin during the Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off on Oct. 12, 2020, in Half Moon Bay, Calif. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The first-time pumpkin champ won $16,450, or $7 per pound, for the lumpy orange pumpkin, which will be showcased during a parade through Half Moon Bay on Oct. 19.

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People watch as pumpkins are weighed at the Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off in Half Moon Bay, Calif., Monday, Oct. 12, 2020. (Jeff Chiu/AP Photo)

Gienger’s pumpkin was the second-heaviest ever weighed at the 40-year-old California event, but it was still far from a U.S. record. That was set in 2018 when a grower in New Hampshire produced a pumpkin weighing more than 2,500 pounds (approx. 1,134 kg).

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Travis Gienger pumps his fist as he stands next to his 2,350-pound pumpkin during the Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off on Oct. 12, 2020, in Half Moon Bay, Calif. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The record for the heaviest pumpkin in the world was set in 2016 at the Giant Pumpkin European Championship in Ludwigsburg, Germany. A Belgium grower’s winning whopper came in at just over 2,600 pounds (approx. 1,179 kg).

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