CHICAGO – Building a huge ball out of more than 175,000 rubber bands is dangerous business. Really.
"The rubber bands ... sometimes they'll break. That hurts," said Steve Milton, whose 4,594-pound rubber band ball was certified Tuesday as the world's largest by Guinness World Records officials. "As long as you wear your safety goggles, you're good."
Milton, 26, of Eugene, Ore., watched as four bodybuilders rolled the multicolored, rubbery mass — 5 1/2 feet high and 19 feet around — onto a giant scale in downtown Chicago for the official weigh-in.
He raised his arms over his head in Rockyesque style when Guinness judge Sarah Wagner announced his ball had bounced the previous 3,120-pound record-holder from the books. That record was set by John Bain of Wilmington, Del., in 2003.
"It's just amazing; it's out of this world," said Milton, who began building the ball in November 2005.
Bain didn't begrudge Milton the honor.
"Steve can have the record ... he worked hard for it," Bain said in an e-mail to The Associated Press. "I had my glory days with the rubber band ball."
Milton worked on the ball with his 6-year-old son, Bryce, and soon-to-be stepson, Austin Johnson, 7. "We did a little bit of research on how big rubber band balls are, and realized there was one out there that was 3,120 pounds and we knew we could do it."
His fiancee thought it was a bit nuts, but it was fun for the family.
Milton credited their success to a simple credo: add to the ball every day, even if it was for just a few minutes, and remember to move it to the garage while it still fits through the door.
"My advice is to basically not overwhelm yourself with it," Milton said. "A lot of people who try to break this record, they overwhelm themselves by trying to do too much."
Wagner, the Guinness judge, is based in London, but she flies around the globe certifying unusual records. Her previous assignment: the world's longest line of pizza in Italy.