HALF MOON BAY, Calif. (AP) — A pumpkin weighing 2,058 pounds has taken first prize and set a tournament record at the annual Safeway World Championship Pumpkin weigh-off contest in Half Moon Bay.
Fifty-six-year-old John Hawkley was crowned the victor Monday.
Tim Beeman, a spokesman for the weigh-off in Half Moon Bay, says Hawkley “squashed” his competition, beating the runner-up by more than 300 pounds. The pumpkin also shattered the record for North America’s heaviest gourd but fell short of the world record by just 44 pounds.
Event organizers said the drought played a role in this year’s competition, since California growers dealt with water restrictions. In many cases, growers decided to plant fewer pumpkins in order to comply with the restrictions, Beeman said.
Hawkley grew the winning pumpkin in California’s Napa Valley, which is famous for its wine grapes. He says he will use the $13,000 in prize money to make repairs on his home, which was damaged during a strong earthquake in the Napa area in August.
Hawkley credited his success at least in part to warm weather. He ended up with a total of six pumpkins, another one of which also weighed more than 2,000 pounds.
(Copyright 2014, The Associated Press, KRON All rights reserved.)