A 51-year-old Ohio man has embraced the Valentine’s Day spirit faster than anyone before, giving 7,777 hugs in 24 hours for a new world record.
Jeff Ondash, who sought the squeezes under the costumed alter ego Teddy McHuggin, broke the record Saturday night outside the Paris Las Vegas hotel-casino on the Las Vegas Strip.
“When you hug somebody, they all walk away from each other smiling,” Ondash said. “They say an apple a day keeps the doctor away; a hug a day — it’s just fun.”
Ondash said he wanted to become the world’s hugging champion to raise money for the American Heart Association during American Heart month.
The cause is important to him because his brother and father both died relatively young because of heart problems, he said.
His daughter Carlie, who tallied her father’s hugs with a manual counter at the start of his attempt on Friday, came up with his pseudonym to make his spectacle a bit more fun. As Teddy McHuggin, Ondash sports a red NASCAR-style driver’s suit with hugging logos and a wrestling-style championship belt.
“Jeff Ondash breaking a record really doesn’t mean a lot,” he said. “Teddy McHuggin on the other hand, he’s the reigning world speed hugging champion, now going after the world marathon hugging champion.
“No one on earth has ever attempted something like that before,” he said.
Ondash, of Canfield, Ohio, already held the record for most hugs in one hour with 1,205, according to Guinness World Records.The previous record of 5,000 hugs in one day was set last year by Siobhan O’Connor in Dublin, Ireland, Guinness spokesman Philip Robertson said.