Since 1955, the Guinness World Records have been documenting and cataloging numerous feats, achievements, and characteristics of the world and its people in an annual publication.
While numerous records have been documented, most are broken after a while, with many being broken numerous times after their initial recording.
There are some that have never been broken, and while these certainly could be broken one day, they have stood since the day they were set.
10 World’s Tallest Man & Woman
There are plenty of people many consider giants, but only one man has taken the record as the tallest giant in history. The tallest person ever born, whose height has been medically recorded, was Robert Wadlow. Though he was born to average-sized parents and weighed 8.7 lbs at birth, Wadlow was destined to stand above the rest of humanity at 8′, 11.1″ (2.72 meters). Sadly, he only lived to the age of 22, though there was no indication he wouldn’t have continued growing had he lived longer.
The tallest woman ever known to live was Zeng Jinlian of Yujiang village in the Hunan Province of China. She stood 8′, 1″ at the time of her death in 1982 at the age of 17. She began growing abnormally at only four-months-old, managing to grow to a whopping 5′, 1.5″ before her fourth birthday. By the age of thirteen, she was already 7′, 1.5″. Her record height was recorded by Guinness World Records as the tallest female ever documented. However, other women who were shorter were given a record for being the tallest woman alive at the time they were recorded.
9 World’s Largest Office Building
When people think of what might be the world’s largest office building, they probably picture a skyscraper stretching to the heavens, but in reality, it’s only five stories high. Of course, height doesn’t matter — what does matter is square footage in terms of office space and personnel capacity. The building that set the record in 1955 and continues to hold it is the United States Pentagon in Washington, D.C., with more than 6.6 million square feet of total floor area.
Of that, there are more than 3.7 million square feet of office space spread across five floors above-ground with two basement levels. There is more than three times the amount of space in the Pentagon than there is in the Empire State Building in New York City, and its numerous corridors stretch for 17.5 miles, though, due to the five concentric rings built into its design, no two points in the building take more than seven minutes to walk between. In terms of personnel, there have been more than 31,000 working at the Pentagon at one time.
8 World’s Richest Man (Adjusted)
In 2020, the world’s wealthiest man was Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, who had racked up $146.9 billion in personal wealth. While that might just buy everything Amazon sells several thousand times over, it’s not the most personal wealth a single person has had in the history of the world (when adjusted for inflation). The person who towered over Bezos in terms of personal wealth was none other than John D. Rockefeller, a man who controlled 90% of oil production in the United States. In 1913, his personal wealth was listed at $900 million.
Of course, that was in 1913 dollars, but when you adjust it for inflation and add the accumulation of wealth leading up to his death in 1937, Rockefeller’s worth jumps to $418 billion. Nobody else in the history of the world could compare to that amount of wealth, though it’s difficult to compare him to someone like an Egyptian Pharaoh or Augustus Caesar, so he holds the record of being the richest person in modern history. Forbes declared Rockefeller the richest person in history in 2006 when his adjusted wealth topped $305.3 billion, and it’s only increased since then.
7 World’s Highest Grossing Movie (Adjusted)
In 2019, Avengers: Endgame set a new record for being the highest-grossing movie of all time, pushing James Cameron’s Avatar into second place. Endgame earned an impressive $2,797,800,564 at the global box office, and while it’s likely this record will one day be broken, the movie that holds the record when adjusted for inflation has been held by the same film since 1939. Gone with the Wind was insanely popular when it came out in 1939, having gone on to win ten Academy Awards following 13 nominations at the 12th Academy Awards.
The film managed to pull in $390 million at the worldwide box office, which would be a lot of money in today’s economy, but in 1939, it was staggeringly high. When adjusted for inflation, Gone with the Wind earned the equivalent to $7.2 billion in 2020. Even more impressive is the number of tickets sold when compared to Avatar, which sold 78.3 million tickets. Gone with the Wind sold a staggering 225.7 million tickets when it came out, which isn’t a number that any modern film can reasonably break.
6 World’s Longest Fingernails
If you’ve ever cracked open a copy of Guinness World Records, odds are, you’ve seen a picture of Shridhar Chillal of Pune, India, and recoiled in horror from what you saw. That’s because Shridhar Chillal holds the record for having the world’s longest fingernails, which is a record he achieved by not cutting his fingernails for 66 years. Of course, having nails like that wouldn’t make it possible to use your hand for much of anything, so he only grew the nails on his left while keeping his right hand neatly trimmed.
When his nails were finally cut, they measured in at a disturbing 29′, 10.1″ (909.6 cm). He began growing them out — or stopped cutting them, whichever makes more sense — when he was 14-years-old. A teacher chastised him for breaking a nail, and from that point, he stopped cutting them. Having nails that long on your hand isn’t easy, and he suffered from a great deal of pain and sleeping difficulty as a result. He finally had them cut so that they could be put on display in Ripley’s Believe It or Not! In Times Square.
5 World’s Most Targeted Person (By Lightning)
You know the saying that lightning never strikes the same place twice? It’s total B.S., which is clear if you ever learned what a lightning rod is, but be that as it may, the chances of getting struck by lightning at one point during a person’s lifetime are 1/15,300. Now, that’s a pretty rare occurrence, to be sure, but what about getting struck by lightning more than once in your lifetime? Unless it happens a fraction of a second after the first strike, the odds are astronomical, but don’t tell that to Roy C. Sullivan — he was struck seven times, and he survived!
His misfortune earned him the nickname, “The Human Lightning Conductor,” and while a single lightning strike will often kill a person, Sullivan survived being struck seven times, beginning in 1942 and ending in 1977 with his last strike. He wasn’t unmarred by the strikes and racked up a list of injuries, including losing a toenail, both his eyebrows, a burn on his left shoulder, his hair was set on fire… twice, and his legs, ankle, chest, and stomach were burned. After surviving seven lightning strikes, he died by suicide in 1983, supposedly, of a broken heart.
4 World’s Fattest Man
Some records you want to set, and some you don’t. When it comes to weight, there is one man who weighed in much higher than anyone else in recorded history. Jon Brower Minnoch set the record for being the heaviest human being ever recorded, and when he was at his heaviest, he weighed in at a massive 1,400 lbs. (635 kg). Minnoch was never a thin man, and when he was 12-years-old, he weighed 294 lbs. (133 kg). By the age of 22, he stood 6′, 1″ (1.85 meters), and weighed 500 lbs. (230 kg)
Minnoch’s weight became a significant factor in his declining health, and it was determined that his weight was due to a condition in which the body generates excess fluid. He was hospitalized for 16 months, during which he lost 924 lbs. (419 kg), which almost set another record that placed him with the second-largest amount of weight loss to have ever been recorded. Unfortunately, a year later, he weighed nearly a thousand pounds, and he was dead less than two years later. At the time of his death, he weighed 798 lbs. (262 kg).
3 World’s Most Decorated Olympian Of All Time
Getting a gold medal in any sport is incredibly difficult, as you have to compete with the best athletes from around the world, and you can only make an attempt every four years. Getting a single medal is an incredible achievement, which automatically classifies a person as being at the top of their particular sport, so for anyone who nabs more than one, it’s a shiny declaration that they’re the best person in the world in what they do. For Michael Phelps, that’s certainly the case, as he currently holds the record for winning more Olympic gold medals than anyone else in history.
Phelps racked up a mind-boggling 28 Olympic medals in total over the course of his athletic career. Of those, 23 are gold, three are silver, and two are bronze. Along with those impressive achievements, Phelps also racked up a large number of Guinness World Records, having set them for Fastest Swim Long Course, Most Silver Medals Awarded in a Single Olympic Swimming Race, and many more. Because he managed to secure multiple medals over the course of five Olympic appearances throughout his career, there’s little doubt he will hold this record indefinitely.
2 World’s Most Atomic Blasts Survived
When the United States dropped the first atomic weapon used in warfare on the Japanese city of Hiroshima, between 90,000 and 146,000 Japanese citizens were killed, either instantly or over time due to radiation burns and exposure. Two days after Little Boy was dropped on Hiroshima, another bomb dubbed “Fat Boy” was dropped on Nagasaki, and that blast resulted in the deaths of between 39,000 and 80,000. More than half the dead were killed on the first day of each bombing, and few people lived to tell the tale. One man witnessed both bombings, and his record is one that will hopefully never be broken.
When the first bomb was dropped, Tsutomu Yamaguchi was on a business trip to Hiroshima, and he miraculously survived. After the city was destroyed, he returned to his hometown, which, sadly, was Nagasaki. He arrived just in time to witness and survive the second bomb, making him either twice-lucky or twice-damned, given what he lived through and witnessed. Tsutomu Yamaguchi not only survived the war, but he also survived the century, living to the age of 93, having succumbed to stomach cancer in 2010.
1 World’s Record Holding Record Holder
For most people desiring to break or set a record, doing it only once is enough to boost the ego and give you something to brag about among your friends. That works for the vast majority of folks, but Ashrita Furman doesn’t care about breaking one record; he cares about breaking as many records as humanly possible, which is why he holds the record for having the most broken records in history! Yes, he’s a record-breaking record-breaker and has broken more than 600 records in over 30 years.
Not all of his records stand, so only about 200 currently stand, but that doesn’t detract from his many accomplishments that prove there are all kinds of strange records Guinness has verified. The first record he broke was knocking out 27,000 jumping jacks in six hours and 45 minutes, and from there, he was hooked. He broke records for balancing a chainsaw on his chin, most fire torches lit and extinguished in one minute, most arrows broken with the neck in one minute, and hundreds more. Because he’s racked up so many, it’s unlikely anyone will devote the same amount of time and energy to break it, but you never know.