In 2008, a Lauderhill man named Joel Waul earned the Guinness World Record for having made the world’s largest rubber band ball. Waul named it “Megaton,” and it stands six feet, seven inches tall, with a circumference of 26 feet. Megaton weighs 9,032 pounds, is made of 730,000 rubber bands, and took Waul five years to build. It currently sits in the Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Museum in Orlando after a crane and an 18-wheeler transported it there.
For the past seven years, Waul’s record has gone seemingly unchallenged. But that’s now changed. In March, a 23-year-old Louisiana man named Will Love became determined to break Waul’s record and build an even bigger rubber band ball—one that is 20,000 pounds, which is 10 tons and equal to the weight of about five cars.
Love has named his ball “Rubberto.” Right now it only weighs a mere 50 pounds, but Rubberto is already being sponsored by Alliance Rubber Company. The company sent Love 250 pounds of rubber bands and posts updates of Love’s progress on Instagram.
“Right now, his is 9,000 pounds, but I want to make one that’s 20,000 pounds,” Love tells New Times. “I’m hoping that in two years I’ll have it done.”
Joel Waul, the current record holder, declined to be interviewed by New Times but seems to be responding to the challenge. On social media, Waul told his followers that next month he will start building a new rubber band ball. In a Facebook video from May 20, Waul says: “The rubber bands have been delayed but it’s all going to get done anyway… Hopefully, a few more weeks and a [month’s] time… the building will begin and they will know who the true rubber band man is, and it’s going to be all good.”
Waul was born in Jamaica, but a year later moved to Brooklyn with his mother and older brother. When he was a teenager, they migrated to South Florida. The Plantation High grad would take on challenges on the internet. Once, someone dared him to put 176 clothespins on his face, and another time, he pricked his face with more than 800 acupuncture needles. Waul became inspired after watching an episode of Ripley’s Believe It or Not! TV show in 2004 that featured a one-ton rubber band ball dropped from a plane in the Mojave Desert. Waul knew he could build a bigger rubber band ball.
Back in 2004, the Guinness World Record ball was 3,120 pounds. In 2006, a man in Oregon built his own ball that weighed 4,600 pounds and became the new record breaker. Waul didn’t give up. He decided to double that record.
He kept building. In October 2007, Ripley’s offered to buy the ball. But Waul declined. In 2008, Guinness officials verified that it weighed 8,200 pounds and that his ball was the biggest. But as the ball grew to be more than a thousand pounds, it became more pricey. Waul would spend more than $2,000 on rubber bands. In 2009, Waul accepted the offer from Ripley to purchase it. By then it weighed 9,032 pounds.
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Will Love says he built rubber band balls for fun in class since he was a tween. Back when Waul earned the world record, Will Love was in high school and enthralled at the race to build the biggest ball. But after Waul broke the record, Love was disappointed that no one was challenging him to set a new record. “There used to be a lot of people online making rubber band balls,” Love says. “It seemed that all of a sudden nobody does it anymore.”
Now that Love is determined to break Waul’s record, it seems that a friendly rivalry is blossoming on social media between the two rubber band ball aficionados. On one Instagram post, Love poses with his four-pound rubber band ball. The post is captioned: “4 lbs. Down. 9996 to go.”
Waul responded: “Better add a one, in front of that first nine.”
Love replied, “I stand corrected. 4 lbs. Down. 19996 to go.”