Atlas Obscura

The World’s Heaviest Ball of Twine

It’s heavy AND colorful!

dj0ser/CC BY 2.0

Atlas Obscura on Slate is a blog about the world’s hidden wonders. Like us on Facebook and Tumblr, or follow us on Twitter.

The United States is filled with controversies but none quite as quirky and bizarre as the debate over who holds the world record for the largest ball of twine. Both Darwin, Michigan, and Cawker City, Kansas, claim to have the largest in terms of length and width, but there is one twine ball title that goes undisputed: the world’s heaviest ball of twine, which can be found hidden in the middle of northern Wisconsin.

At an estimated weight of 21,280 pounds, the world’s heaviest ball of twine was constructed by James Frank Kotera, nicknamed “JFK.” Over the past 37 years, JFK has spent tens of thousands of hours wrapping twine into a ball in an isolated house in Lake Nebagamon, Wisconsin.

Since 1979, JFK has spent three days a week working at a nearby dump and the other four days at home wrapping garbage bags full of twine in gigantic circles. In addition to the world’s heaviest twine ball, JFK has also constructed “Junior,” a ball made of string that weighs 47 pounds in honor of Kotera’s birth year, 1947. Kotera was born on Feb. 2, which inspired the self-given nickname of “Groundhog.”

The few people that visit the ball of twine will be treated to a casual conversation with JFK, who will insist that he never gets tired of wrapping the twine and plans to never stop until he dies. According to JFK, he used to be a drunkard, but that all changed in 1979, when he had a conversation with God, who encouraged him to stop drinking and turn to twine. Ever since this conversation, JFK’s painstaking effort has given him the grounds to claim that, in terms of weight, he truly has the world’s biggest balls.

Contributed by Atlas Obscura user, lewblank

If you liked this, you’ll probably enjoy Atlas Obscura’s new book, which collects more than 700 of the world’s strangest and most amazing places: Atlas Obscura: An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders.