Sam with Joanne and cert

Blue Monday is the most depressing day of the year, when the festive spirit seems far away and the excitement makes space for the winter blues. 

To fight off the negative energy, TV star and radio presenter Sam Thompson, who was recently crowned King of the Jungle on I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here!, joined forces with ITV show This Morning to change the narrative. 

The keyword? Free hugs!

After gathering an enthusiastic crowd, Sam officially started Sam's Hugfest: a chance to spread hugs and good vibes by breaking the record for most hugs in one minute. 

The attempt was livestreamed on ITV and took place at Shoreham-By-Sea, which was previously voted as the most miserable town in the UK. 

To beat the record and spread some much-needed joy on the gloomiest day of the year, Sam had to hug as many people as possible in just 60 seconds, dispensing bear hugs to the crowd. 

The record to beat was 87, which amounts to 1.46 hugs per second.

"I'm nervous," Sam admitted just before the attempt.

"Make contact with everyone's torso, because if you don't the hug won't count, and give them an embrace," official Guinness World Records Adjudicator Joanne Brent reminded him. "That's about it."

Speed is your friend here - Joanne

The first attempt was a close call but, sadly, unsuccessful. 

“You were very close to beating the record. However, you broke one of the most important rules,” Joanne told him. 

"Unfortunately, you were moving down the line!"

According to the rules, throughout the attempt Sam had to stand in the same spot as people moved down a line to hug him. Unfortunately, he inadvertently started moving down the line meeting the huggers halfway, which was against the guidelines. 

Despite the bump in the road, Sam didn't give up.

Determined to turn Blue Monday into a success, the former Made In Chelsea star prepared to have another go and snatch that record while following the guidelines to the letter.

Sam and Joanne celebrating

"It's such a fast-paced record," Joanne said about the attempt.

As the stopwatch started for the second time, Sam racked up plenty of hugs.

"I just want to say that everybody here has been unbelievable," Sam said to the enthusiastic crowd just before hearing the result of his second attempt. 

Joanne reviewed all the video evidence to double-check the count and make sure the result was accurate to the millisecond and - after a nail-biting moment of suspense - Sam discovered that he had surpassed the previous record with a total of 88 hugs. 

To celebrate the result in style, the now-record holder jumped into the hug of one of his collaborators as the crowd cheered.

The previous record for most hugs given in one minute stood at 87, as achieved in 2019 by Satoru Shibata (Japan). 

Shibata’s record-breaking feat happened in the heart of Yokohama, at the Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse event plaza. 

The event was sponsored by the radio station FM Yokohama and took place during a live recording at a gourmet and entertainment festival in the Japanese city.

But hugs can become a very serious business and ignite healthy, playful challenges between record holders!

Sam and crowd

In 2019, with a group hug that lasted a whopping 30 hours and one minute, Stephen Rattigan, Brian Cawley, Nicky Kearney and Robert Tuomey (all from Ireland) achieved the longest marathon group hug ever.

They achieved the record in Ireland, specifically in Castlebar, Mayo, from 4 to 5 May 2019.

The group had already broken the record in 2017 with a hug lasting 26 hours 44 seconds, but the Japanese Waseda Record Breakers snatched the record in 2018.

The Tokyo-based team hugged for a fantastic 26 hr 15 min 17 sec, in Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan. 

The attempt stretched between 25 and 26 August 2018.

Repeating the record in 2019, Stephen, Brian, Nicky and Robert proved to be pro-huggers and managed to win back their previous record title with almost four hours to spare!

The record attempt for the largest tree hug

But hugs are a hug-e part of record breaking. 

Over the years, plenty of record holders have proved their hugging skills or joined mass-participation events to spread positivity.

Some hug records that made us swoon:

  • With a whopping 9,277, Jeffrey Ondash (USA) broke the record for the most hugs given in 24 hours.
  • Misha Collins' weekly scavenger hunt GISHWHES achieved the largest online photo album of hugs for the campaign 'GISHWHES Hugs The World 2013!' The album counted 108,121 photos.
  • In Shanghai, the M&M's mascot achieved the record for most hugs given by a mascot in one minute: an incredible 89 hugs!
  • Having a good connection with nature is important. 4,620 people reunited in Thiruvananthapuram, India, to achieve the record for the largest tree hug.

Do you think you could break a hug record?

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