How Do You Win a Guinness World Record?

(Last Updated On: January 21, 2020)

How Do You Win a Guinness World Record?

At some point in your life you’ve probably seen those yearly big books full of world records like “most coconuts broken with the thumb in one minute.” Most of them don’t seem like records many people have attempted–in fact a good handful of them look like records only the record holder has tried. So, let’s go down this weird rabbit hole, because it is most certainly a strange one. How do you win a Guinness World Record?

How Do You Win a Guinness World Record?

Rules and Regulations

There are a handful of records that have been logged by the Guinness World Records that you could never break. Well, maybe you could but it’ll never get logged. It’s not because you’re too lame or whatever. It’s thanks to safety concerns. Records of the sword-swallowing variety and the like have been deemed “past human safety tolerance levels” at this point. This includes the record holder–ergo it was unsafe for them to do what they did to get the record they initially got. They’ve been grandfathered in, though. It’s not like they’re going to revoke the record because the person was in danger. 

But how about records you can actually set?

If you want a record you’re going to have to go through some bureaucratic shenanigans. Granted, everything has bureaucratic shenanigans, so we hope you weren’t surprised by that news. The shenanigans are basically what you’d expect–you have to submit a quick application. After that, the Guinness World Record people send a representative to verify you can do the thing you applied to do. That’s actually pretty much it. Assuming you can do the thing you said you could do, you can probably get your nice little plaque.

They do make a bit of a deal over their corporate division. Basically corporations can set records to “harness the power of record-breaking to deliver success.” That’s not oddly capitalistic at all. We’ll get to it. Yes they bill their records as products.

Just make sure you’re within their own regulations and you pass the initial application gate. For our readers who love to eat or drink, those records were deemed unsafe and can’t be broken anymore. At some point they were even removed! They get reinstated later, though.

How Much Do World Records Cost?

On some level, you may think that you wouldn’t need to pay money to hold a world record. A small number of people probably expect to get paid for having a big special title. Of course, that’s not how our world operates, and on the contrary, you have to pay for your record. You have to pay quite a lot.

Once upon a time this wasn’t that much of the case, since the Guinness World Records were making the vast majority of their money off of their books. With few other revenue methods to turn to, the company turned to aspiring world record holders. 

Technically, you could just do things the old fashioned way–the relatively free one. Of course, that way is super slow. You know, because it’s not profitable for Guinness World Records.

Typically they bill things in packages, so getting a record can cost anywhere from $12,000 to $500,000. These packages include having people certify your record in person, in real time. They also include advisors who will suggest records for you to break or set–take that how you will.

If you did things the free way, you’ll be sending a bunch of evidence and proof of record breaking (as well as a big list of rules–likely personal to you). You’d also have sent an application to set or break a record. This takes around 12 weeks. Which can be expedited for around $800, or more depending on whether or not your record is new. 

As for your evidence, that also takes like 12 weeks to review–a process that can be expedited for about $650.

Business Dealings

Remember when we mentioned that Guinness World Records has a specific setup so businesses can get their PR licks in?

Turns out that applies to authoritarian regimes as well.

Further Reading: What Is Authoritarianism?

Turns out Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow (head of state of Turkmenistan) spent a lot of money to get a bunch of records from Guinness World Records. Makes sense for an autocratic leader to go for world records; helps build them as an icon for the people to follow. John Oliver on Last Week Tonight flamed Guinness World Records for indirectly supporting the human rights abuses perpetrated by Berdimuhamedow’s regime. Guinness World Records’ offered this response.

We’re not sure if you want to pay or wait for your record winnings, but consider seeing if you know what the records are here.



About Kyler 584 Articles
Kyler is a content writer at Sporcle living in Seattle, and has just finished his undergraduate at the University of Washington. He's been writing for Sporcle since 2019 and has accumulated so much random, general knowledge he'd rather not think about it. Most of his free time is spent drinking black coffee like water.