"There's no crying in pumpkin growing," said competitive grower Mike Schmit.

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A pumpkin in a pumpkin growing competition
Credit: Getty Images

Giant pumpkin growing is a surprisingly competitive hobby. The right seeds can command huge prices. The prize money can be even bigger. And everyone dreams of a spot in "the Super Bowl of pumpkin weigh-offs." But just like the real Super Bowl, rules are part of the game — and this year a Wisconsin pumpkin grower who could have taken home over $20,000 got a proverbial yellow flag for what some may see as a minor penalty: a tiny crack.

As I learned covering giant pumpkin growing back in 2015, pretty much anything goes when it comes to your methods with the major exception of "doctoring" your gourd, especially in an attempt to hide things like cracks, holes, and rot that can disqualify it. That's bad news for Mike Schmit. According to TMJ4, the Wisconsin grower got his pumpkin up to 2,520 pounds this year, enough to make it the heaviest in the United States and the second heaviest in the world for 2021… except that it was disqualified.

"The crack was the size of a fingernail," Schmit told the station about the tiny imperfection that thwarted his potential victory tour. And as TMJ4 points out, had the pumpkin been eligible for the 2021 Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off in California, he could have taken home $22,680. "It happens," Schmit continued. "There's no crying in pumpkin growing." (For the record, though, there is crying in losing out on $20,000!)

If there's any silver lining, it's not like he missed out on the Guinness World Record which currently sits at 2,624.6 pounds. And growing a pumpkin like Schmit's isn't something you do by accident. Schmit has apparently been growing since 2016, and despite winning some competitions, this year was his first time getting one past the 2,500-pound threshold, meaning he's on the right trajectory.

"I know I can do it again," he said, "so we just got to look forward to the future and do it again."