Last year, two men, "Stare Master" and "Eyesore," beat the world record for staring. The previous Guinness World Record holder lasted at 17 minutes – but in this contest, "Stare Master," who was favored to win, blinked at 40 minutes 59 seconds.
The competition, held in Australia's Northern Territory, was called "So You Think You Can Stare." It was a benefit for Cassie Brown and her son Hamish Doyle, who needed a new specially-fitted wheelchair. The last two competitors were Fergal "Eyesore" Fleming and Steven "Stare Master" Stagg, but the competitors ranged from toddlers to middle-aged adults. Four highly-trained referees were brought in from the Roller Derby Club in order to make sure that no "eyelash-on-eyelash impact" made it through to the next round. Tactics employed included face-making and slight eye-twitching.
Stagg, the favorite, had produced a short documentary on the subject. He is apparently quite well-known on the staring competition circuit, which is a thing that exists.
We all need to blink. In fact, on average, we blink 15 times a minute in an effort to keep dust out of our eyes and to prevent our corneas from drying. If there is excessive wind or smoke, though, that number increases dramatically.
We also blink for psychological reasons. If we are intently reading or listening, the blink count decreases by half. Daniel Similek and his team at the University of Waterloo found that blinking while reading is an indication of your mind wandering, because if you were really focused, you wouldn't need to blink (as often).
So what does it feel like to stare for such a long period of time? According to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, both competitors' eyes reddened and they shed some tears. At around the 17-minute mark, the crowd became agitated. At 30 minutes, the contestants confessed to boredom. And then, at 35 minutes, Fleming felt like he was getting a tattoo on his eyeball.
What is your record staring contest time?