Skip to content
Subscriber Only

For a Fee, Guinness Will Help You Set a New World Record

For a fee, Guinness will help you win a place in its famous book
For a Fee, Guinness Will Help You Set a New World Record
Photograph by Aaron Richter for Bloomberg Businessweek

According to Guinness World Records, the tallest man alive is a 31-year-old Turk named Sultan Kösen. He’s 8 feet, 3 inches. The oldest living woman is Japan’s Misao Okawa. She’s 115. But what about the largest human playing card? On July 13 exactly 600 people sporting red and white plastic rain ponchos crammed into the Turning Stone Resort Casino’s event center just outside Syracuse, N.Y., to attempt that record, which didn’t yet exist. An air horn blasted, and the participants, filled with free snacks and holding $20 gaming vouchers, popped their hoods and stood still for 5 minutes. The result: a 56-by-76-foot ace of diamonds made entirely with human pixels. “You’re essentially trying to herd individuals with free will, and that’s difficult,” said the straight-faced Guinness World Record adjudicator, Philip Robertson, on hand in an official uniform (a blue blazer with a yellow-and-blue striped tie) to certify the achievement. Well, not so difficult. “We didn’t have to do anything off the wall or crazy except stand there,” says Pamela Hand, a 46-year-old medical administrative assistant. “My husband and I got to do something together and were a part of history.”

It was a simple marketing stunt: Turning Stone paid Guinness $10,500 for a Silver Package, which included a consultant to help devise the human-playing-card concept, that superserious adjudicator, and a licensing agreement to use the Guinness trademark. Then Dan Jones, Turning Stone’s director of casino promotions, took care of details such as buying red and white ponchos and luring participants.