The Great Midwest Trivia Contest, Circa 1966

If you’ve ever played a game of trivia, you might be familiar with questions like “Who was the fifteenth president of the United States?” or “What element has an atomic number of 12?” How about “What is the ZIP code of the only place, according to a work by John Robbins, that has a reference work about Edward William Bok?”*

The latter (you can find its answer at the end of this article, if you’re curious) belongs to none other than the Great Midwest Trivia Contest, a trivia competition in a league of its own. 

The Great Midwest Trivia Contest (GMTC, for short) was founded in 1966 by J.B. deRosset, then a student at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin. Despite some minor formatical adjustments over the years — the contest was run through radio until the pandemic forced it to go virtual — this unique style of trivia has unfailingly started on the last Friday of every January, at 10:00:37 p.m. Competition ends just after midnight on the following Sunday, meaning a continuous run of 50 hours. Players are by no means obligated to play continuously, but it does give especially dedicated teams a chance of answering more questions.

The GMTC is an impressive example of the power of tradition. Each year, the last question — the Super Garruda — of the current contest becomes the first asked at next year’s competition (meaning it theoretically never ends), which has led organizers to proclaim GMTC as the world’s longest-running trivia contest. 

Its many peculiarities, including an animal mascot (an armadillo, in case you were wondering), have helped make the Great Midwest Trivia Contest so great over the past five decades. Here’s to many more years of quirky questions, Internet scavenging and college trivia at its finest.

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