OSLO, NORWAY — History was made this weekend at the International Staring Contest Championship, held this year in President Donald Trump’s favorite mostly-white country, Norway. 28 year old Jack Phillips of Ireland won this year’s championship match after a grueling 45 minute contest against Mexico’s Enrique Corazon de Chorizo. It was one of the longest staring contests in recorded history, but that is not the reason that the staring contest world is lit up and abuzz this morning. Mr. Phillips himself is the reason behind all the intrigue and interest in this year’s championships.
That’s because Jack Phillips is blind.
“Jack had one hell of a tourney,” Phillips’ coach, Susan Michaelson told us after the championship match. “There were a couple points where I thought for sure his gaze would break, but he just reached down inside of himself, gave 110%, and came out on top.”
This is the first time in ISCC history that a blind person has won the tournament. The championship was segregated until 1955 when Sarah McGee became the first blind contestant to successfully petition ISCC officials for the chance to compete with sighted contestants. Over the years, the number of crossover starers has increased, and while in 1993, 1998, and 2013 there were runners-up who were blind, no blind person has won the big match until Jack did yesterday.
An emotional Phillips told media representatives in post game locker room interviews he was “stunned but pleased” at his success. Phillips said he’d been training for two years with the top staring contest coaches and past winners, and they devised a strategy for him, which he says he stuck to the entire tournament.
“We decided I should just sit there, and stare at the other competitor,” Jack said. “You know, like everyone else is doing. But since I can’t see anything, we thought I had a good chance of not breaking my gaze.”
Jack’s win wasn’t without a little bit of controversy at the outset.
“I forgot to take my sunglasses off when I sat down for the first match, and sunglasses are completely banned from competitive staring contest leagues all over the world,” Phillips said. “But luckily Susan was able to get the ref’s attention and we used a Do Over on the first game. Which left me at a disadvantage for the rest of the first day, but you know, all the glory to God, I held in there, I stared my ass off, and I did it!”
Jack says he’s keeping the prize money to help next year’s training, but some of the prizes the winner receives he will be donating.
“Don’t have a need for binoculars or a telescope or a microscope,” Jack said. “But the gift card from Ray Ban will definitely come in handy.”
Phillips says he’s dedicating his victory to very special people in his life.
“To everyone who told me not to give up on my dreams, I dedicate this victory to you,” Phillips said. “There were times when I was sure I couldn’t go on. When I was sure I was never going to hoist this trophy over my head. But you never let me give up. You never let me stop trying. And this one is for all of you.”
Phillips will defend his title at next year’s championships in Tokyo.