Donkey Kong high score competition

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The world record high score for the video game Donkey Kong has been a competitive contest since the game's release in 1981. The competition grew in prominence from its appearance as a central plot element in the 2007 documentary The King of Kong. The Verge reported that competitors spend thousands of hours practicing the video game.[1] The competitors are not sponsored by large companies.[2][not in citation given]


The Telegraph wrote that the game's interpersonal rivalries contribute to the competition's appeal.[2] The film The King of Kong focused on the competition between arcade game record holder Billy Mitchell and teacher and former Boeing engineer Steve Wiebe.[1]

Wiebe began to compete with Hank Chien,[3] a plastic surgeon from New York.[1] In March 2010, Chien surpassed Wiebe's record score.[3] Wiebe surpassed Chien's score in September 2010.[3] But Chien, who became known as Dr. Kong, reclaimed the world record and ultimately held the title for four years.[1] Chien would go on to improve his record score four more times.[4] Chien has since withdrawn from competitive play.[4] In September 2014, Robbie Lakeman overtook Chien for the highest score.[1][a] Lakeman had practiced for two and a half years[1] and was spurred by a bet that he could earn a score within the game's top twenty.[2] He would often stream his attempts live on Twitch, a streaming service, though his initial world record game was performed offline.[1] 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.[2][b] Lakeman later overtook his own record in December 2014 and again in June 2015.[4]

In September 2015, Wes Copeland bested Lakeman for the high score. Lakeman, however, was able to reclaim the record within six hours.[5] Copeland retook the record in January 2016. Shortly after, Lakeman announced his withdrawal from competitive play,[6] though he would regain the record again in December 2017[1], and increase it again in February 2018.

The 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.[2][7] The original high score was 872,000.

In 2018, Twin Galaxies, which officiates high-score designations, vacated Billy Mitchell's Donkey Kong high-scores and banned his future participation after confirming 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 showed his game rendering as if played in emulation.[8]



Date Score Player Notes
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
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 1, 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 [10]
December 22, 2017 1,230,100 Robbie Lakeman
February 2, 2018 1,247,700 Robbie Lakeman [11]


Kong Off is an annual competitive tournament.[4] Jeff Willms won a small cash prize at the 2013 Kong Off 3 tournament,[2] which was held in Denver between 22 competitors.[12] Willms, a professional Software Engineer, had previously won the Kong Off 2.[12] The July 2015 Kong Off 4 was held in Pittsburgh.[4]


  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.[1]
  2. ^ Saglio's score: 1,206,800.[2]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Dante D'Orazio (September 6, 2014). "Gamer claims 'Donkey Kong' world record, ending plastic surgeon's four-year reign". The Verge. Vox Media.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Donkey Kong: the game that refuses to be beaten". September 11, 2014.
  3. ^ a b c Brian Ashcraft. "The King Of Kong Once Again The King Of Kong". Kotaku. Gawker Media.
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ a b Good, Owen S. (2015-09-19). "All-time Donkey Kong world record beaten twice in less than a day". Polygon. Retrieved 2016-01-27.
  6. ^ a b Good, Owen S. (2016-01-09). "New Donkey Kong world record set, and there's not much room left for another". Polygon. Retrieved 2016-01-27.
  7. ^ "Eminem's Donkey Kong Ambitions | Donkey Blog: News, Theory, and Meditations From The World of Competitive Donkey Kong". Retrieved 2016-01-27.
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ "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 2016-01-27.
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ a b "World's best Donkey Kong players duke it out at Kong Off 3". Ars Technica.