Would You Believe He Won A Liar's Contest?

Host Liane Hansen speaks with Whiskey Joe Gehlhausen, the winner of the annual Big Whopper Liars Contest in New Harmony, Ind. For the past 21 years, people have gathered to tell tall tales and honor the tradition of storytelling.

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LIANE HANSEN, host:

If you were to yell you lie in New Harmony, Indiana last night, the proper response would've been thank you. The 21st Annual Big Whopper Liar's Contest was held there, and the winner is Whiskey Joe Gehlhausen. He's on the phone from his home in Jasper, Indiana. Congratulations. Have you checked to see if your pants are on fire?

Mr. JOE GEHLHAUSEN (Winner, Big Whopper Liar's Contest): Yes.

HANSEN: And are…

(Soundbite of laughter)

HANSEN: …are they…

(Soundbite of laughter)

HANSEN: …as the champion liar? Can you tell us an abridged version of your tall tale in about, you know, like, a minute or so?

Mr. GEHLHAUSEN: In like a minute or so? Hey, well, this story in its full length takes about seven minutes. It runs a little bit overtime. But, anyway, it's basically hunt that I talk about back when I was just a young fellow. And I go out and find 13 turkeys sitting on one limb on a tree. And I'm hunting with my great-grandfather's Pennsylvania law rifle, which has been overloaded with a very heavy charge of power.

And while I'm there in the woods, I end up having a rattlesnake next to me, a wild boar charging at me, an 11-point buck across the pond where the turkeys are. And, anyway, after I pull the trigger, everything around me is basically dead from different parts of the firearm and belt buckles and everything else. And we still end up taking home the 13 turkeys because their toes are all stuck in a crack on the limb.

(Soundbite of laughter)

HANSEN: Nice. What was the prize?

Mr. GEHLHAUSEN: Well, let's see, I haven't gotten it all in here with me but I got two tapes from Prairie Home Companion.

HANSEN: All right.

Mr. GEHLHAUSEN: I love those stories. And I got a real nice American flag and three boxes of Cracker Jack. And we don't get real rich on this contest, but we do have a lot of fun.

HANSEN: How long have you been a competitive liar?

Mr. GEHLHAUSEN: Well, let's see, in this contest here, I got in the year of the Twin Tower attack. A lot of the competitors didn't show up because that was kind of a rough week in our country and stuff. And so, they asked for a couple of walk-ons to come on, and I thought, well, heck, I've got some stories that are, you know, as good as what I've been hearing. So, I went up and, well, we won her that year.

Competitively, I won an oratorical contest when I was in high school. Evansville, when I was in early youth then, I came in, like, fourth place up in Indianapolis in a real huge contest. So, I've been doing it for quite a few years.

HANSEN: And you're not lying now?

Mr. GEHLHAUSEN: No, no, no.

HANSEN: Whiskey Joe Gehlhausen won the 21st Annual Big Whopper Liar's Contest last night in New Harmony, Indiana. Thanks a lot.

Mr. GEHLHAUSEN: Okay.

HANSEN: And this is really NPR News.

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