Interview transcript: Jacob Blangsted-Barnor, Guinness World Record holder

Liz: Welcome to the show Jacob. 

Jacob: Hey, how’s it going?

Liz: Good. How are you?

Jacob: Yeah, very good, thank you.

Liz: Congratulations on your new record. You managed to achieve it in 84 days, three hours and 24 minutes. How does it feel?

Jacob: Yeah, it feels pretty good. It’s a bit surreal come the end of the final game once I realised kind of, I had done it, you know, this was the last three months of my life. So it kind of feels like once you do something for three months almost kind of feels like you’ve been doing it for forever. So come the end, it was definitely a bit strange.

Liz: And how did this whole journey come around for you? What was it that made you want to do it in the first place?

Jacob: Well, there’s a load of stadiums I’ve always kind of wanted to go see and there are kind of list of stadiums, I wanted to go see. I kind of had a little list I kept adding stadiums to and it was starting to get really long. So I was like, it’d be cool if I could go on like a little road trip and do maybe four or five of them. And then I decided it’d be pretty cool to do that maybe every couple of years until I’d done all of them, basically over like my lifetime. So I started looking it up and yeah, I came across the article about the girl who did it in 2015 and she broke the world record. And so I kind of, when I saw that it kind of gave me the idea and planted a seed and then for months, I kind of thought about it and then decided, yeah, I’m just going to go for it.

Liz: And I bet she must be fuming?

Jacob:  No, she actually messaged me about halfway through my trip. She was really nice about it and we were like, we were swapping stories and that kind of thing. So it’s pretty cool. But it’s a shame cause she’s from Cleveland and she was away the week that I was in Cleveland or else it would’ve been like quite cool to do a game where like, you know, the current record holder and the new one. But what also happen, this is really, really strange; the Falcons game was the final game so it was one where I broke the record and someone messaged me the following week who was at that game and he was the first person to create the record back in 1998 and he had no idea I was going to be there. He just sat there, he said, with his son and then I was on the big screen about breaking the record. He was like, I created that record. Oh, it was so strange that he happened to be there.

Liz: That’s amazing. 

Jacob: I know.

Liz: And obviously this trip must have cost you an absolute fortune. How much did you have to save up to make this happen?

Jacob: So I saved up to about 20,000 pounds for a.. yeah, I’d saved up for a long…well, so I wasn’t saving up originally for this trip, I was saving up originally for a deposit for a house. I’d always said, you know, once I had saved enough and I had enough for that, that’s what it was going to be for. And then I came to this idea around the same time that I kind of got near that number and kind of reset with the situation where I was like, I could go kind of be sensible and pay the house or I could go do this and have what I would hope would be the best three months of my life. So I made that choice and it was. So it was; 100% the correct choice I think.

Liz: And how did you go about deciding which games to like start and finish out, like how did you decide the route overall?

Jacob: So to do it as quickly as possible, you need to be wherever the first-day game is or wherever the Monday game is. So it made it a little bit easier because that’s like 20 odd games that I just sat, I don’t have to pick, I have to be there. So then it was kind of just filling in the gaps on Sundays and go and right if I am on, if we take week one for example, if I’m in Chicago on the Thursday and new Orleans on the Monday, I was like, right, where can I go that’s kind of along the way so that I’m not going like Chicago to LA, back across to New Orleans. So I picked Dallas and that was like, that worked out pretty well. And then it didn’t always work out amazingly cause there was just sometimes where you couldn’t get away from it. So especially kind of at the back end of the trip, I realised when I got there I’d been like kind of filling in the gaps so there was a bit more kind of crisscrossing across the country. But especially the first kind of six weeks to eight weeks, it all kind of worked out pretty well planned, I think.

Liz: Amazing. And tell me a little bit more how like the record itself, what was it that you needed to provide to the Guinness World Records to make it happen?

Jacob: So I had a GPS tracker on me, which I then had a file kind of the exported. So I kind of sent them this file that said what my coordinators were for every game day for the entire three months. I had to video every first play and every last play with me in it so that they knew I stayed for the entire game. What took me just as long as anything else was then trying to go and find those videos among the thousands of pictures I took for three months and then I had a like official Guinness world records form that I had to get somebody that worked for each team to sign it and kind of fill out with their contact details that says, yes, Jacob was here, but also says if Guinness needs to contact me for any reason to verify it then that they can. And so I had all of that kind of stuff. And then I had like a logbook where I basically had to go for and put for every match, right, this is the person on the form, this is like a screenshot of my ticket. This is what the file name is for the starting play, the last play, all that. And I submitted all that off. They took a look at it and then reviewed it and then came back saying, yep, we believe you and you’re a world record holder.

Liz: That’s amazing. It was obviously eight full days, that must have been exhausting.

Jacob:  Yeah, yeah, yeah. It was, it was very tiring. Especially kind of the Monday games because you’ve been at a game Sunday and then you’ve generally had to fly Monday morning, then drop your stuff, go straight to tailgate and go to the game. So Mondays generally, could be a struggle at times. There was one in particular where it was, we’d been to Cincinnati on the Sunday, you know, tailgate in the morning at the game, then we had to be up at 4:30 AM to get on a flight to LA, which was like a five and a half hour flight. Then yeah, drop off stuff, go straight to the game obviously. Monday night football on the West coast starts pretty early on like five as well. Yeah. It’s early.

It doesn’t really feel like night football at all. But yeah. So yeah, it definitely got tiring. I had to kind of make sure I found days where I could just chill or else there was that kind of sometimes where I forced myself like no, go sightseeing or something on the Tuesday, which would normally be my free day. But there were a couple of weeks where I was like, I’m just going to chill cause I wasn’t really enjoying the sightseeing at that time. 

Liz: Yeah. That’s a shame, isn’t it? 

Jacob: Yeah. But there’s like quite a few places now that I went to and I only had kind of a chance to see a little bit but I know I want to go back there because I liked it when I was there. So there’s a couple places like that where I’d like to go back for sure.

Liz: And you think it’s possible to do, I guess, the record in any less than 84 days? 

Jacob: Yeah. So it’s definitely doable. It comes down to the schedule essentially. How quickly you can do it, depends on how often they repeat the Thursday day and Monday night venues. So like this year, week five, the Monday night, the Steelers were at home and then I think they were all so at home that week nine Monday night. So that’s one day of the game week where you can’t go to a new stadium. So I think if they were all unique, you could do it in 74 but that’s quite unlikely. They tend to repeat, I say they tend to repeat the good team, but I know two of the repeats this year were the Steelers and the Jets so I’m not too sure what they were doing this year. So yeah, I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out when the schedule drops for next year to see if it is doable, quicker; not that I would be doing it, just to see if someone might be breaking it that was all. But hopefully, I’ll keep it for a couple of years before someone does it.

Liz: Fingers crossed. And did you have any setbacks on your journey at all? Like were there any delays or anything that potentially play in jeopardy for you or was it all pretty smooth sailing?

Jacob: I was really quite lucky. All of my delays were on like non-game days. So but if I’m traveling on a Tuesday or a Wednesday and my flight is delayed by, you know, four hours, it’s really not the biggest deal in the world. Like it’s annoying, but it’s not gonna affect me getting in the game or anything. The only day where a delay would have really put me in jeopardy was when I flew Monday morning before a game; luckily all my Monday flights were absolutely fined. Yes, I got quite lucky with all the flights that they were all fine. I did get my car towed at one point, which wasn’t ideal. 

Liz: Oh no! What happened?

Jacob: Yeah. I parked in a disabled spot by accident. I came back, it was when I was in Pittsburgh and I came back like it was really late at night when I came back and there was street parking and I just saw what I thought it was just like, ah, that’s lucky, there’s one space left on this street. It turned out it was left there because there was like a disabled sign next to it, which I didn’t see. So I parked it in there and then in the morning, I go to check out my Airbnb, I’m ready, I’ve got all my stuff and then I got outside and my car’s not here and I wasn’t quite sure where it was. And while I went looking for it, cause I thought maybe I parked on another block and kind of forgot also. I realized that the police station was the next block. So I went in and said, my car’s not there. And they said it had been towed and yeah, that wasn’t ideal.

Liz: I bet that was a pricey mistake?

Jacob: Yeah, that’s true. Cost. Yeah, for sure. Yeah.

Liz: Oh no. Well, on positive stuff, how surprised were you to find that you were heading to the Super Bowl? That’s amazing, by the way.

Jacob: I could not believe it. It was insane. Yeah. I was on the sideline of the Falcons at the Falcon Stadium and they got in touch and they were kind of really excited that I was going to be breaking the record in Atlanta. And so the person who wanted to sign my form they got the Falcon CEO to be that person. So that was really good. And so we were just like kind of stood there, chatting and he’d signed my form, that kind of thing. And then like really kind of chill nonchalantly, as if it was the most normal thing in the world. He just handed me this like gold football that said, congrats, you’re getting in the Super Bowl. And we were just like, Oh yeah, you’re getting in the Super Bowl by the way. I was like, wait, what?

And then I looked over, I had two friends over with me at that point and I looked over and my friends were holding these like, you know, like the big fake checks, but like two big fake Super Bowl tickets. And yeah, I couldn’t believe it. Because some people had said along the way like, Oh, the NFL should give you Super Bowl tickets for doing this. And I was like I’m not sure that they’ll do that, you know, they’re worth a lot. And but yeah, so it was incredible. Apparently, they were from both the Falcons, NFLUK because the Falcons originally were planning to give me tickets and then NFLUK rung them up and was like, no, we were going to give him tickets. Probably them from both. And I did say I’ll take four. I’ve got a lot of friends who are but yeah, no, so that was really great. And NFLUK also covering flights and accommodation as well, so huge shout out to them cause yeah, I’m definitely glad at that. It should be great but I don’t know how I’m going to be able to afford it. 

Liz: Oh my God. Exactly. It’s amazing. Of all the cities you visited, where would you say had the best food?

Jacob:  I would say Pittsburgh had really good food. 

Liz: And what’s so special about it?

Jacob: So there was somebody I met in Pittsburgh at a tailgate suddenly enough and at the tailgate, where are you going to kind of look around Pittsburgh? And I said, Oh, I don’t know. So he said, oh, we’ll go out for some food. So we went out for lunch the next day and then it was all like sandwiches and like deli meats and all that kind of stuff, which I do really like. And then I was driving through Pittsburgh then like maybe six weeks later to pick up some friends who had flown in to join me for a week and I was passing kind of near Pittsburgh and I’ve got the cheapest place for them to fly so I picked them up from there. So when I went back again, he basically took us on this like huge tour of Pittsburgh where we went to about five different places and just had like one thing and kind of kept sharing it and by the end, I was so full. But yeah, the food was incredible and we went to this kind of like a deli kind of market that they had where you could just try all the different like meats and cheeses and all that. 

Liz: Sounds amazing.

Jacob: Yeah, it was the best day, I’m not going to lie.  

Liz: So the question is, like what city had like the best drinks, like what is so special about that city? 

Jacob: Hmm, that’s a good question. Best drink. I really can’t remember. There was some really quick kind of I call unique ones. So for example, when I was at what I think Charlotte, North Carolina, the tailgate that I went to there, they know somebody at one of the local breweries and so they have like their own beer that’s brewed just for them at the tailgate. So that’s pretty cool. So they’ve got that. So the tailgate is called Warren Riot. I think the beer is also called Warren Ryot but spelled like rye.

Liz: Right clever.

Jacob:  Yeah, I know.

Yeah, that was pretty cool. And also, when I was in Tampa, the guy who owned my Airbnb gave me a like full bottle of whiskey so that was pretty cool. Yeah. So I’ve been slowly working my way through that since I got back the Sunday night, every night game, I pour their whiskey out to help with it. 

Liz: That’s quite cool. Of all the places you visited, which was the best tailgate and why?

Jacob: The best tailgate was Buffalo, followed closely by Detroit. They were my two favourite ones. The Buffalo one, the people are just crazy. And it was like a huge tailgate as well. So you go, it’s quite a famous one and you walk into this like kind of parking lot and there’s, must be, over a thousand people. And this was one of the ones where like for a lot of them, I had been in contact with somebody so they knew I was coming and they kind of knew what I was doing. And this is one of the few I hadn’t been in contact to just knew kind of where to go and I just kind of got talking to people and they were like the nicest people and they were like showing me around the tailgate and I was just introduced to all these different people. 

There were actually three British guys as well who now live in Canada but they always go to Bell’s games cause it’s just like their closest one now. So I was like talking to them for a while, which was pretty cool. Yeah, it was just crazy. You know, they’re doing like shots out of bowling balls and then like throwing them at Dolphins logos cause yeah they’ve got this big like really old red 1985 Pinto and they drive it. It’s still like got all its original bits and they drive it to the game and they just cook all this strange stuff like on the car.

So they have like these chicken skewers on screwdrivers. There was a filing cabinet with pizza cooking in it. Apparently that’s one of the best pizza in all of Buffalo. And then at one point, they opened this like mailbox, you know, like the proper American mailboxes and there was like a full rotisserie chicken cooking in there. 

Liz: It sounds amazing. 

Jacob: I know. Yeah. So they definitely know how to get on in Buffalo. There’s a lot of fun and the people are so nice as well. And Detroit, Detroit is the same thing. You know, people are really nice. There was even a hot tub at the Detroit tailgate and no, I didn’t I went in, it was too cold. But yeah, people just so nice and you know, they’re always saying, Oh, you know, you can come back and join us and you can stay at our house and all that kind of thing so I just met some amazing people. 

Liz: Friends for life. 

Jacob: Yeah, exactly. 

Liz: So that’s tailgates. And what about stadiums, where did you think were like the most impressive stadium? Which one was the worst? What do you think? 

Jacob: So the most impressive stadium was Atlanta, I think.

Liz: Yeah, that screen at the top. 

Jacob: Yeah. Yeah. And the halo board. Yeah. It’s incredible. Yeah. I thought like, Oh yeah, it’d be cool, but I didn’t quite grasp how big it was. I thought it kinda looked like the, you know, like the video advertising boards; it doesn’t, it’s like so much… it’s literally huge. And yeah, you just walk into the stadium there and I was just blown away. Like these indoor stadiums always kind of freak me out a little bit because they’re so big that you obviously feel like you’re not indoors but you are. So it’s strange and they’ve got this like huge, like metal Falcon out the front of the stadium as well. And the other thing you know about the Atlanta stadium is the way they made the stadium, they made all the kind of food and the drink is all reasonably priced, it’s all from like local kind of restaurants and food trucks and stuff and they’re not allowed to charge more in the stadium. So rather than…

Liz: Wow! That’s good.

Jacob: Yeah. Yeah. So I think they said when they were building the stadium, they did kind of spoke to season ticket holders and said, what’s most important to you? And that was what came back. So they kind of went with that and it was nice to finally, you know, about to buy a beer for $5 when especially when the game before we’d been to was in LA where beer was $16.

Liz: That’s grim.

Jacob: Yeah, exactly. Yeah. So that was definitely kind of the best. But if you’re a fan of kind of a more old school stadium, I know not everybody likes the kind of new indoor domes, if you’re a fan of the old school stadiums then Arrowhead in Kansas City was probably my favorite, in kind of older stadiums, that was probably my favorite. That’s got a really good atmosphere and the Chief’s fans are great. So yeah, that was great. 

Liz: And which stadium did you dislike of all the ones you’ve been to? Or was it not really that bad?

Jacob: Yeah, they’re all good. But I would probably say FedEx field for the Redskins it was half empty when I went, which probably didn’t help. Obviously the season’s not going too well. The fans, I don’t think like the owner very much. So. I know I spoke to some of the fans that were there and you know, they were saying that a lot of people don’t come because they just hate the direction the team’s going in and they basically would want the owner out so that they could start going in a different direction. So it’s quite an old stadium as well and isn’t the easiest to get to and from. So all in all, yeah, that would probably be kind of my least favorite. Yeah, I’d probably say, I wouldn’t be like rushing back there or anything.

Liz: Yeah. And then with your record secured for now, what’s the most important thing you feel like you’ve taken away from the whole trip? 

Jacob: I would say the people, probably the people, the people that I’ve met, you know, all these people that kind of welcomed me in and were like, essentially, you know, treated me like family when I was visiting and going to their tailgates and all that kind of thing. I’ve now got people that if I go back to most cities now, if I go back to them, I know I’ve got people in there as I can go see or go stay with. So that was huge. And also all the memories really. It was funny because I did so much in three months that I wonder if I’ll remember it all. I did another podcast yesterday, or I can’t remember, I did another podcast this week and they gave me a little test to see how much I could remember based on my schedule and once asked about it, I managed to get most of it right. So I like to think, yeah, I like to think the memories will stick with me definitely for some time. 

Liz: Oh yeah. You’ll have to make yourself like, I don’t know, a video or something. 

Jacob: Yeah, definitely. 

Liz: Amazing. Well, thank you so much for your time, and I hope you have an amazing time at the Super Bowl.

Jacob: Thank you so much and thank you for having me.

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