"Maverick," a 2,560-pound pumpkin, has earned three Guinness World Records (Credit: Guinnessworldrecords.com)

Travis Gienger did not have much hope for a pumpkin he planted in April 2022. The 42-year-old horticulture teacher from Anoka, Minnesota, had accidentally dropped a bucket of dirt on the plant when it was just five days old! But the mishap did not seem to impact the gourd. "Maverick" — nicknamed after the main character in Top Gun — grew to an astounding 2,560 pounds.

On October 10, 2022, Gienger hauled the massive fruit to Half Moon Bay, California, for the Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off. Not surprisingly, Maverick took home the top prize of $23,040. The massive pumpkin also broke the American record for the heaviest pumpkin by six pounds.

But Gienger was not done. He wanted to transform Maverick into the "world's heaviest jack-o'-lantern." Gienger enlisted pumpkin-carving maestro Mike Rudolph to help him with the task. The duo had initially planned to turn Maverick into a fighter pilot helmet. But the gourd was not round enough. Instead, they transformed it into a bald eagle — the country's national bird.

Mike Rudolph transformed Maverick into a bald eagle (Credit: Guinnessworldrecords.com)

It took Rudolph 11 hours to complete the masterpiece. But the effort was well worth it. On October 28, 2022, Guinness World Record officials confirmed Maverick's status as the "world's heaviest jack-o'-lantern." The record was previously held by Gienger's 2,350-pound pumpkin, "Tiger King." Maverick also broke the record for the "world's largest jack-o'-lantern by circumference!"

While Maverick is America's heaviest pumpkin, it is not the world's heaviest. That title belongs to a 2,702-pound pumpkin grown by Italian farmer Stefano Cutrupi in 2021.

Resources: guinnessworldrecords.com, cbc.ca, upi.com