Donkey Kong high score competition

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Players have competed for the world high score for the video game Donkey Kong since its release in 1981. The competition has become more prominent since being covered in the 2007 documentary The King of Kong.


On November 7, 1982, Billy Mitchell set the first widely recognized Donkey Kong world record by scoring 874,300 points.[1][2] That record stood for approximately 18 years until August 17, 2000, when it was surpassed by Tim Sczerby's score of 879,200.[3][4] The competition received popular attention through the 2007 documentary The King of Kong. The film focused on the rivalry between Mitchell and teacher and former Boeing engineer Steve Wiebe.[5]

Wiebe began to compete with Hank Chien, a plastic surgeon from New York.[5] In March 2010, Chien surpassed Wiebe's record score.[6] Wiebe achieved a new record score on August 30, 2010.[7] But Chien, who became known as Dr. Kong, reclaimed the world record and ultimately held the title for four years.[5] Chien would go on to improve his record score four more times.[8] Chien has since withdrawn from competitive play.[8] In September 2014, Robbie Lakeman overtook Chien for the highest score.[5][a] Lakeman had practiced for two and a half years[5] and was spurred by a bet that he could earn a score within the game's top twenty.[9] He would often stream his attempts live on Twitch, a streaming service, though his initial world record game was performed offline.[5] At the time, a higher record had been set by Dean Saglio, but on an emulated version of the game rather than a physical arcade cabinet.[9][b] Lakeman later overtook his own record in December 2014 and again in June 2015.[8]

In September 2015, Wes Copeland bested Lakeman for the high score. Lakeman, however, was able to reclaim the record within six hours.[10] Copeland retook the record in January 2016. Shortly after, Lakeman announced his withdrawal from competitive play,[11] though he would regain the record again in December 2017,[12] and increase it again in February 2018.

American rapper Eminem has reported his own score (465,800) within the top 30 worldwide, though with increasing competition this score would now sit outside the top 100.[9][13]

In 2018, Twin Galaxies, which officiates high-score designations, vacated Billy Mitchell's Donkey Kong high-scores and banned his future participation after stating that three of his Donkey Kong million-point high scores had not been made on original, unmodified circuitboards. A frame-by-frame analysis of Mitchell's games suggested his game rendering as if played in emulation.[14] However, in 2020 Guinness World Records reversed their decision and reinstated Billy Mitchell's previous world records, based on new evidence including eyewitness reports and expert testimonials.[15] Despite the ruling by Guinness, Twin Galaxies continues to not recognize Billy Mitchell's scores.[16][17]


Date Score Player Notes
November 7, 1982 874,300 Billy Mitchell [c]
August 17, 2000 879,200 Tim Sczerby [3][4][18][19]
June 3, 2005 985,600 Steve Wiebe
August 3, 2006 1,049,100 Steve Wiebe
February 26, 2010 1,061,700 Hank Chien
August 30, 2010 1,064,500 Steve Wiebe [7]
December 27, 2010 1,068,000 Hank Chien
February 27, 2011 1,090,400 Hank Chien
May 18, 2012 1,110,100 Hank Chien
July 25, 2012 1,127,700 Hank Chien
November 5, 2012 1,138,600 Hank Chien
September 5, 2014 1,141,800 Robbie Lakeman
December 1, 2014 1,144,800 Robbie Lakeman
June 24, 2015 1,158,400 Robbie Lakeman
September 17, 2015 1,170,500 Wes Copeland
September 18, 2015 1,172,100 Robbie Lakeman
October 21, 2015 1,177,200 Robbie Lakeman
January 4, 2016 1,190,000 Wes Copeland
April 11, 2016 1,190,200 Robbie Lakeman
April 19, 2016 1,195,100 Wes Copeland
May 5, 2016 1,218,000 Wes Copeland [20]
December 22, 2017 1,230,100 Robbie Lakeman
February 2, 2018 1,247,700 Robbie Lakeman [21]
March 17, 2019 1,249,500 John McCurdy [22]
May 25, 2019 1,259,000 John McCurdy [23]
June 15, 2020 1,260,700 Robbie Lakeman
September 22, 2020 1,271,100 Robbie Lakeman
January 11, 2021 1,272,700 John McCurdy [24]
June 8, 2021 1,272,800 Robbie Lakeman [25]

Other World Record Categories[edit]

There are many other categories for Donkey Kong besides highest score. One of the most popular is the "No Hammer Challenge" where competitors try to get the highest score without using the hammer found in the game.[26] The current world record in this category was set by Jeff Wolfe on July 8, 2008, with a score of 735,100.[26] Some other categories include most points for different levels, fewest points, and most wall jumps on a rivet board.[27]


Kong Off is an annual competitive Donkey Kong tournament hosted by Richie Knucklez,[8] to date held from 2010 to 2019. The 1st Kong Off was won by Hank Chien in NJ. Jeff Willms won a small cash prize at the 2013 Kong Off 3 tournament,[9] which was held in Denver between 22 competitors.[28] Willms, a professional Software Engineer, had previously won the Kong Off 2.[28] Kong Off 4 & 5 were held in Pittsburgh, with Hank Chien winning his 2nd title followed by Robbie Lakeman's 1st victory the following year.[8] Kong Off 6 & 7 were held in Banning, CA. Robbie Lakeman won his 2nd consecutive title @ KO6 followed by Jeff Wolfe's 1st win @ KO7.


  1. ^ Lakeman's play session lasted over three hours and ended with a score of 1,141,800, besting Chien's score by 3,200 points.[5]
  2. ^ Saglio's score: 1,206,800.[9]
  3. ^ Score currently recognized by Guinness World Records, but unrecognized by Twin Galaxies.


  1. ^ Harmon, Josh (September 30, 2019). "The Split-Screen Man". Electronic Gaming Monthly. Retrieved July 31, 2020.
  2. ^ Day, Walter (1998). Official Video Game & Pinball Book Of World Records. Sunstar. ISBN 978-1887472258.
  3. ^ a b Aaronson, Trevor (June 19, 2003). "Arcade King". New Times Broward-Palm Beach. Retrieved July 31, 2020.
  4. ^ a b "The 'King of Kong' could be stripped of his high score".
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Dante D'Orazio (September 6, 2014). "Gamer claims 'Donkey Kong' world record, ending plastic surgeon's four-year reign". The Verge. Vox Media.
  6. ^ Brian Ashcraft (September 20, 2010). "The King Of Kong Once Again The King Of Kong". Kotaku. Gawker Media.
  7. ^ a b Watson, Adam (September 23, 2010). "Steve Wiebe reclaims spot as king of Donkey Kong". ESPN. Retrieved July 31, 2020.
  8. ^ a b c d e "'Donkey Kong' scoring record falls once again". Yahoo Games. June 29, 2015. Archived from the original on February 1, 2016.
  9. ^ a b c d e "Donkey Kong: the game that refuses to be beaten". September 11, 2014.
  10. ^ Good, Owen S. (September 19, 2015). "All-time Donkey Kong world record beaten twice in less than a day". Polygon. Retrieved January 27, 2016.
  11. ^ Good, Owen S. (January 9, 2016). "New Donkey Kong world record set, and there's not much room left for another". Polygon. Retrieved January 27, 2016.
  12. ^ "The Donkey Kong World High Score Record Just Got Smashed To Bits (Again)". Nintendo Life. December 22, 2017.
  13. ^ "Eminem's Donkey Kong Ambitions | Donkey Blog: News, Theory, and Meditations From The World of Competitive Donkey Kong". Retrieved January 27, 2016.
  14. ^ Good, Owen S. (April 12, 2018). "King of Kong's Billy Mitchell's high scores wiped out by Twin Galaxies". Polygon. Retrieved April 13, 2018.
  15. ^ "A statement from Guinness World Records: Billy Mitchell". Guinness World Records. June 17, 2020. Retrieved June 17, 2020.
  16. ^ O'Kane, Sean (June 19, 2020). "Guinness reverses decision to strip Billy Mitchell's Pac-Man and Donkey Kong records". The Verge. Retrieved April 22, 2021.
  17. ^ Orland, Kyle (December 1, 2020). "Twin Galaxies attacks Billy Mitchell as a fraud in new legal claims". Ars Technica. Retrieved April 22, 2021.
  19. ^ "The Donkey Kong World Record: The Real History, From 1982 to Today | Donkey Blog: News, Theory, and Meditations From The World of Competitive Donkey Kong". Retrieved January 27, 2016.
  20. ^ Good, Owen S. (May 8, 2016). "Donkey Kong's all-time record broken again, with a 'perfect' game (update)". Polygon.
  21. ^ Good, Owen S. (February 4, 2018). "Another world record claimed in Donkey Kong". Polygon.
  22. ^ "Jeff Wolfe & John McCurdy Are The New Kings of Kong".
  23. ^ "Twin Galaxies Arcade - Donkey Kong - Points Hammer Allowed - 1,259,000 - John McCurdy". showthread.php.
  24. ^ "John McCurdy Reclaims His Donkey Kong Crown".
  25. ^ "Return of the King Robbie Lakeman".
  26. ^ a b "Donkey Kong No Hammer Challenge". Archived from the original on February 21, 2018. Retrieved August 6, 2021.
  27. ^ "Donkey Kong Arcade World Record Categories". Archived from the original on May 17, 2020. Retrieved August 6, 2021.
  28. ^ a b "World's best Donkey Kong players duke it out at Kong Off 3". Ars Technica. November 18, 2013.