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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Dean Kimo Ah Yun breaks world record

Photo by Helen Dudley
Dean Kimo Ah Yun and Senior Vice Provost Gary Meyer broke the world record for most casinos visited in a day.

Podcast by Ian Schrank

Flip through the 2018 “Guinness Book of World Records” and you might see a familiar Marquette face or two. 

Kimo Ah Yun, dean of the College of Communication, and Gary Meyer, the senior vice provost, visited 74 casinos in 24 hours, shattering the previous world record – one that he had previously tied – of 69. 

Ah Yun and Meyer met at Michigan State during graduate school 25 years ago when the two were in the same doctoral program in the department of communication, and they hit it off right away.

On occasion, the two were known to dabble in gambling throughout their graduate careers.

“We both enjoyed getting out to a casino every now and again, but of course, in graduate school, you don’t have the wherewithal to do that very often,” Meyer said. “So the story really starts about six years ago.”

That story starts with Meyer’s 50th birthday.

Ah Yun said he would treat Meyer to anything he wanted. The two put their heads together and decided to head to Vegas and visit 50 casinos over one weekend — one for every year Meyer had been alive.

They didn’t make it very far. Ah Yun and Meyer got a bit derailed from their task and hunkered down in only one casino on day one. The second day, they made a bit more progress by visiting 20 — a far cry from the 50 they intended to visit.

After returning home from their failed Vegas trip that Christmas, Ah Yun got an idea.

Each year, he buys his kids the official “Guinness Book of World Records.” No matter what is going on, everything stops, and the kids read it cover to cover.

“He decided to look up and see what the record was for most casinos gambled,” Meyer said. “That planted the seed in his head that, ‘Hey, maybe that’s something we could, you know, break.’ And that was the genesis of the whole thing.”

Ah Yun said it was fairly easy to settle on tackling that world record because he had certain criteria for the record and also didn’t have a lot of talent.

“I didn’t want anything that required much training. I didn’t want anything that was going to involve a lot of time,” Ah Yun said. “And so then I, as I began to narrow it, I said, ‘Well, it’s gotta be a record I can do, like, quickly,’ and the most I would commit was a day to it, and it had to be something that I could do.”

So the two made a pact: They would return to Vegas for Ah Yun’s 50th birthday. 

They spent the next few years planning and learned a few valuable lessons.

“Although it was a world record about gambling, it really has nothing to do with gambling. It’s about planning a route that you could get to,” Ah Yun said.

They took to the Vegas strip again in October 2016 to defeat the current world record. They didn’t fail, but they also didn’t succeed. The two tied the record at 69 after 23.5 hours.

The required items by Guinness — table games, signatures at each casino and the chest GoPro — were no problem for the dynamic duo. All of those things they had accounted for. But what they hadn’t was walking over 36 miles.

“That’s the part we didn’t really think about,”Ah Yun said. “We probably should have at least walked a couple of miles beforehand, because when you really go from not walking much to walking 36 miles in a 23.5 hour period, it’s a really tough thing to do.”

And don’t forget the bag of poker chips that are necessary to have so the two could play Blackjack — their table game of choice — at each casino. One can imagine how the weight would add up.

Ah Yun remembers that night, he said. “I will never do this again because of how grueling it is.” But he woke up the next morning, reborn and ready to try again.

Meyer and Ah Yun decided to implement a strict training regimen. With both of them living in Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin, Saturday mornings the two would meet each other and walk to Potawatomi Casino. There, they would enjoy a cup of coffee and about an hour of gambling. Then they’d walk back. It helped ensure that no matter what, they were at least walking 15 miles a week to prepare themselves.

Two years later, this past October, Ah Yun and Meyer finally felt prepared enough.

They had a new route and timed out places outside of the Vegas Strip so they could be sure to hit enough casinos. Ah Yun and Meyer said it’s almost like an art form trying to plan which casinos will be open and what bus routes will come by at the right time. Everything has to be done by public transportation.

The two walked 26 miles, rode buses for over six hours and ultimately visited 74 casinos in 22.5 hours. They shattered the world record by five casinos.

It’s still in the process of being verified by Guinness, but no matter what, Ah Yun and Meyer know they did it.

As for what’s next, Ah Yun has his eyes set on riding a roller coaster and saying all the capitals in 60 seconds or less.

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    Sharon McGowanMay 1, 2018 at 12:14 pm

    Who knew? Nicely done, McKenna!