30 of the Most Impressive Guinness World Records Ever Recorded
Records are made to be broken, even ones as crazy as those compiled by the good people at Guinness — yes, as in the Irish brewery, which started the record book in 1951 more or less as a lark. Seven decades later, the Guinness gatekeepers have logged some 40,000 records and more are being added and broken, every day. While there’s no prize for such recognition, you do however earn bragging rights and “official” sponsorship for the achievement.
And let’s face it: We appreciate achievement — and the bigger, the better. Here are 30 of the most impressive Guinness World Records out there, from the sublime to the extremely ridiculous.
Tallest Living Man
Height: 8 feet 2.8 inches
Record held by: Sultan Kösen
Guinness says they have encountered more than a few males over 6-feet tall, but the ceiling-scraper to best them all is Turkey’s Sultan Kösen, who makes Shaquille O'Neal, at 7-foot-1, look like a shrimp. And yes, Kösen, a farmer by trade, has indeed played basketball. Now you don’t have to ask him if ever you find him towering above you.
Most Spacewalks by a Female Astronaut
Record held by: Peggy Whitson
Going to outer space has been largely a boys’ club, partly due to entrenched sexism in the industry and partly because the rigors of astronaut training are tough for anyone, regardless of gender. But no one told Peggy Whitson of Iowa, who has made 10 extravehicular activities (EVAs) in missions on the exterior of the International Space Station. Makes us nauseous just thinking about it!
Youngest Nobel Laureate
Record held by: Malala Yousafzai
Has there ever been a braver young woman than Malala Yousafzai, who dared speak truth to power in her native Pakistan, where certain conservative elements forbade girls from being educated? Yousafzai was infamously shot in the head for her beliefs; she not only survived but also continued to speak out after her family relocated to England. For her bravery, Yousafzai was awarded the Nobel Nobel Peace Prize, the youngest person to ever receive a Nobel in any category.
Longest-Running Primates Study
Length: 60 years
Record held by: Dr. Jane Goodall
Not only is Jane Goodall one smart cookie, she’s an incredibly tough lady, considering she first set foot in Tanzania to study gorillas up close and personal in 1960! Granted, while the English scientist is now 87 and hasn’t “lived” among the primates full time in quite a while, her field work and data gathering hasn’t paused in over six decades. Queen of the jungle, indeed!
Tallest Dog Ever
Height: 44 inches
Record held by: Zeus
Zeus, a 155-pound Great Dane, certainly lived up to his name in both stature and personality. Even standing on all four legs, Zeus loomed above the ground from 44 inches — that’s over 3 feet — above terra firma. He could also drink from the faucetwithout getting up on his hind legs! Do yourself a favor and be nice to a dog this size.
Loudest Cat Purr
Volume: 67.8 decibels
Record held by: Merlin
Noisy Merlin’s owner believed her cuddly feline had the loudest purr on the planet, once claiming that the vibrating kitty’s vibrations registered 100 decibels — as loud as a motorcycle! The Guinness folks showed up to record Merlin; even though his noisy purr clocked in at “only” 67.8 decibels, Guinness nonetheless declared him the world’s loudest cat! Listen for yourself!
World’s Tallest Building
Height: 828 meters (2,716 feet 6 inches)
Record held by: Burj Khalifa
Dubai’s Burj Khalifa reaches an incredible 828 meters up into the skies above the streets of this important Middle Eastern city of commerce and recreation — as well as some serious wealth. To put those meters into “American,” that’s just over a half-mile up! Wowsers. No wonder Tom Cruise held on for dear life while scaling it during the movie “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol.”
Longest-Running Animated Sitcom
Years/episodes: 32/716 (at the time of writing)
Record held by: "The Simpsons"
Homer, Marge, Bart, Maggie, Lisa and a literal cast of thousands of supporting Spingfieldians have been making us laugh since they stepped out of Tracey Ullman’s “shadow” and into their own show way back in 1989! Judging by a recent episode in which Fat Tony (Joe Mantegna) agrees to become the somehow-still-infant Maggie’s godfather, they still haven’t lost their edge. “Gunsmoke,” the previous benchmark, ran for a measly 20 seasons and 635 episodes. Doh!
Most Northerly Climate Protest
Location: Arctic Circle
Record held by: Dr. Mya-Rose Craig
English ornithologist Mya-Rose Craig has been to all seven continents to bring awareness to the plight of the world’s rapidly decreasing bird populations, frequently joining or even leading protests against climate change. In 2020, the good doctor brought a handmade sign to the Arctic Ocean, standing upon frozen sea ice to protest the effects of human encroachment on bird habitats. Literally, she has gone to the ends of the Earth for her cause.
Most Hula Hoops Spun at One Time
Record held by: Marawa Ibrahim
“Marawa the Amazing,” as the Somali-Australian performer is known, has a knack for chalking up records for her amazing abilities, but perhaps none is as impressive as her once keeping 200 hula hoops twirling at the same time. We still struggle with just one, so hats — er, hoops — off to Marawa.
Youngest ‘Time’ Person of the Year
Record held by: Greta Thunberg
Greta Thunberg of Sweden didn’t understand why the world’s leaders were doing so little to head off climate change. Accordingly, she sailed across the Atlantic, using only wind power, to reach New York to attend the 2019 U.N. Climate Summit. She made a splash and has continued her activism ever since. Time named the then-16-year-old its 2019 Person of the Year.
Most Mount Everest Climbs
Ascents: 24 and 9, respectively
Record held by: Kami Rita Sherpa (male) and Lhakpa Sherpa (female)
For mountain climbers, reaching the 29,032-foot summit of Mount Everest is the goal to end all goals — but try doing it as many times as Kami Rita Sherpa and Lhakpa Sherpa, who hold the world records for most ascents up the world’s tallest peak. Lhakpa Sherpa has reached the summit nine times, the most of any woman, and Kami Rita Sherpa has been atop the world an astounding 24 times — once doing so twice in less than two weeks!
Longest Wheelchair Ramp Jump
Length: 21.35 meters (70 feet)
Record held by: Aaron Fotheringham
Don’t let anyone tell you what you can’t do. Just ask Aaron Fotheringham of Las Vegas, Nevada, who was born with spina bifida, which has limited his mobility … though certainly not his tenacity. Partly inspired by a brother who is a devoted skateboarder, Fotheringham started performing daredevil stunts of his own while in a wheelchair. In 2018, he set quite a mark by launching 70 feet through the air off of a ramp jump. Talk about a superman!
Longest Fingernails (Female)
Length: 8.65 meters (28 feet, 4.5 inches)
Record held by: Lee Redmond
Welp, if you’ve got an itch to scratch, call in Lee Redmond, who first started growing out her nails in 1979 and basically never stopped. Collectively, her 10 nails measured an incredible 28 feet in length when Guinness declared hers the longest. Sadly, Redmond was in a car accident in 2009 that snapped off her lengthy nails, but she’s been regrowing them ever since.
Our big question: How does Redmond sleep at night and not roll over on those Freddy Kreuger knives?
Most FIFA Wins by a Single Player
Record held by: Pelé
Edson Arantes do Nascimento is known the world over as “Pelé,” and that’s the name attached to the record for the player who has won more World Cups than any other. The Brazilian soccer legend won his first FIFA cup in 1958, then gave the trophy some golden siblings in 1962 and 1970 — making him one of only 20 players to ever win more than one. Good luck catching his gooooooooaaaaalllllll.
First Person to Break the Sound Barrier in Freefall
Height of jump: 38,969.4 meters (127,852.36 feet)
Record held by: Felix Baumgartner
Sixty-five years after pilot Chuck Yeager first broke the sound barrier, super daredevil Felix Baumgartner thought he would do it by, well, falling from the sky. In 2012, from 24 miles above the Earth’s surface, Baumgartner leapt into the history books by not only breaking the sound barrier during his freefall but also smashing records for the highest freefall parachute jump and the fastest speed in freefall: 843.6 miles per hour!
Shortest Living Woman
Height: 2 feet
Record held by: Jyoti Amge
If there is a tallest, that means someone has to be the shortest as well. For that unique honor, we turn to India, where Jyoti Amge is confirmed by Guinness as the world’s shortest woman, standing at just 61.95 centimeters or just over 2 feet. But don’t look down at Amge, who is known for her infectious positivity and winning smile that might as well make her 10-feet tall. And get this: Despite being an adult now, Amge weighs only 9 pounds more than she did at birth!
Length: 14 feet
Record held by: Ram Singh Chauhan
Eat your heart out, Rollie Fingers, because the pitching great’s mustache comes nowhere close to the epic facial hair of Indian Ram Singh Chauhan, whose hairy wingspan measures 4.29 meters (or 14 feet) in total!
Widest Unstretched Mouth
Width: 17 centimeters (6.69 inches)
Record held by: Francisco Domingo Joaquim “Chiquinho” (Angola)
Well, this fellow sure has the widest aperture of any human that has ever been measured, and check out the photo of him showing it off in all its gaping glory. Guinness has not provided any further information on whether or not he's been able to use that aperture to win at any eating contests, but he did go on an Italian show called “Lo Show dei Record” in 2010 for the official measurement. Say ahhh!
Length: 8.8 centimeters (3.46 inches)
Record held by: Mehmet Özyürek
What is going on over in Turkey? The country has produced not only the world’s tallest man but also a fellow named Mehmet Özyürek, whose rather healthy proboscis is affirmed by Guinness as the largest yet known. Özyürek’s nose extends nearly 3.5 inches out from his face, and thankfully, he appears to be confident about the appendage, once telling Guinness, “I always had a feeling I was going to go places and be someone because of my nose."
Size: 102 ZZZ
Record held by: Annie Hawkins-Turner
Someone has to be the queen of mammaries, and for several years running, that notable honor has belonged to Atlanta resident Annie Hawkins-Turner, first recognized by Guinness for her titanic assets in 1999 — and still the reigning queen. Each of her breasts weighs 65 pounds and are 4.5-feet long. Hawkins-Turner knows what she's got, and she’s made quite a living thanks to what God gave her. We’re sure she’s also very nice.
Deepest Dive by a Manned Vessel
Depth: 36,200 feet
Record held by: Victor Vescovo
In the Pacific Ocean’s Mariana Trench, a portion called the Challenger Deep doesn’t hit bottom until nearly 7 miles below the surface! American Victor Vescovo, who has made a career of diving to the world’s deepest oceans, said “no problem.” On April 5, 2019, Vescovo touched bottom at the Challenger Deep for the deepest dive in human history. A classic overachiever, Vescovo has also scaled Mount Everest and traveled to both the South and North Poles. Some people…
Longest Career as a TV Broadcaster
Length: 69 years
Record held by: Sir David Attenborough
There are lengthy broadcast careers, and then there is David Attenborough’s. The British personality first appeared on the BBC in 1953 and has gone on to host and/or narrate hundreds of documentaries for both TV and film, including the lauded BBC series “Planet Earth.” Now a hale and spry 95 years of age, Attenborough is still lending his talents to numerous globe-trotting programs. May he never stop.
Fastest Land Speed Record
Speed: 490 miles per hour
Record held by: Andy Green
Andy Green trained as a fighter pilot for the British military, so clearly he likes to go very, very fast. Not content to break the sound barrier in the skies, Green decided to use some of his leave time to head to Jordan where, in May 1997, he “drove” a jet-powered car called Trust SSC across a desert plain that saw his ride racing across the sand at 350 miles per hour. No word on if he went back in time to 1955 to meet Doc Brown.
World’s Largest Rifle
Length: 33 feet, 4 inches
Record held by: James A. Decaine
What’s better than owning a cannon? How about the world’s largest functional rifle? For that rather unique benchmark, we head to Michigan, where one James A. Decaine is in possession of a rifle that even Paul Bunyon couldn’t handle. It measures 33 feet from butt to muzzle and probably produces a sound that can be heard in Wisconsin.
Highest-Paid Celeb Over a 12-Month Stretch
Tally: $186 million in 12 months
Record held by: Taylor Swift
She may have known trouble when it walked in; she may have warned us boys only want love when it’s torture; and Tay-Tay is laughing all the way to the bank. Guinness reports that T-Swift pulled in a cool $186 million between June 2018 and 2019, making her both the highest-paid musician and the highest-paid celebrity over a 12-month stretch. Now, who needs to “calm down?"
Most Pubs Visited
Record held by: Bruce Masters
Guinness has recognized Briton Bruce Masters as the biggest barfly in history, with an ungodly number of drinking establishments patronized over his many, many outings. For the sake of argument, let’s say Masters has downed at least one pint in each pub. If the average pint of a British ale costs £4, that’s some £185,980 ($251,616.06) he’s plunked down to achieve this record. Hope it was worth it.
Biggest Collection of Hamburger Memorabilia
Number of items: 3,724
Record held by: Harry Sperl
Harry Sperl is better known as “Hamburger Harry” — and for good reason, considering his nearly 4,000 items of burger-related tchotchkes. The good folks at Guinness traveled to Daytona Beach — of course, it’s in Florida! — to verify Hamburger Harry’s lifetime collection of burger fun, including his burger-shaped bed and footstools. Whatever builds your burger, Harry.
Tallest Cowboy Boots
Height: 10.74 meters (35 feet, 3 inches)
Record held by: Bob Wade
They say that everything is bigger in Texas, so sculptor-creator Bob Wade decided that, in a state where cowboy paraphernalia is everywhere, he needed to fashion the world’s tallest cowboy boots. These giants stand 35-feet tall and reside in San Antonio, which is as good a warning as any that if you pass through on Interstate 10 heading west, you won’t hit another major city for 550 miles. Yee-haw!
Most Guinness Records by a Single Person
Records held and/or broken: Over 800
Record held by: Ashrita Furman
Lee Majors may have been the Six-Million-Dollar Man, but Ashrita Furman is the man of nearly 1,000 records, making him the single-most-recognized awardee in the entire catalog of Guinness record-holders. Among Brooklynite Furman’s many achievements: using a pogo stick to “climb” Mount Fuji, 27,000 consecutive jumping jacks and the longest time ever recorded for doing hula hoops underwater!
Surely the record-smasher, now 67, has more tricks up his sleeve. Perhaps, he could be the first person to travel in a solo space suit to Mars — before Elon Musk gets there.