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The Greatest International Scavenger Hunt The World Has Ever Seen (GISHWHES) is an annual world-wide scavenger hunt organized by Supernatural actor Misha Collins. In 2012, the inaugural week-long event attracted more than 14,000 participants from 69 countries, setting the Guinness World Record for Largest Media Scavenger Hunt.
In December 2010, Supernatural fans banded together in a vote contest to get the cast of the show on the cover of TV Guide’s first annual Fan Favorite issue. However, only actors Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles appeared on the final cover. In commenting on the issue cover, Misha Collins tweeted that he would be given a Rhino from the show’s production company as a consolation prize. He invited fans to mail him a self-addressed stamped envelope to get a piece of the rhino.
if you recall, since we won, Warner Bros. will be rewarding me with a Rhino. True to my word, i will cut it up & share it with you all.— Misha Collins (@mishacollins) December 6, 2010
In January 2011, fans who sent in envelopes received a letter from Collins with a numbered piece from one of five Rhino jigsaw puzzle. The letter instructed the recipients to put the pieces together to find an email address for the next step of the scavenger hunt, leaving the details of logistics up to the fans. On February 1st, 2011, fans with the puzzle pieces created a LiveJournal community and Tumblr blog to help themselves find each other and connect their pieces.
After all of the puzzle piece recipients had found each other, Collins sent out a response email instructing the participants to continue working together and complete a global scavenger hunt. The teams were given one week to take photo or video of 22 specific tasks ranging from relatively easy (ex: a video of a person holding an authentic rhino puzzle piece bestowing an act of random kindness for a complete stranger) to seemingly impossible (ex: a photo of a person holding an authentic rhino puzzle piece with me while I’m wearing a single glittering, fingerless glove). The winning team was offered a prize of either $53.21 in Canadian dollars or a cup of tea with Collins anytime and anywhere except his home within seven years. Collins also announced he would be launching a bigger, better scavenger hunt later that year.
The first annual GISHWHES was held from November 20th to November 29th, 2011. To join, participants had to pay $10 or write an essay on one of several topics chosen by Collins. The task list included 147 photo challenges, 65 video challenges and seven web-based challenges, each worth a certain amount of points ranging between 3 and 217. More than 6,000 people participated, with 621 teams of 10 people each. The winners were awarded a trip to Rome to have dinner with the actor. That year, GISHWHES won the Guinness World Record for Largest Photo Scavenger Hunt (shown below).
In 2012, GISHWHES was held between October 30th and November 4th. The task list was shorted to 152 total missions, ranging between 12 and 287 points. A special mission was later added in an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the Most Pledges to Commit a Random Act of Kindness, which was set by Guinness Breweries with 74,379 pledges. 47 pledges were needed per team member to break the record, with 350 points on the line. That year, 14,580 people participated, breaking the Guinness World Record for Largest Media Scavenger Hunt. Additionally, 93,376 pledges to commit a random act of kindness were made in partnership with Collins’ non-profit organization Random Acts, shattering that record. The winning team Badwolf was flown to Scotland in May 2013 for an evening in a haunted castle with Collins (shown below).
The 2013 edition of the game was announced in July on Twitter and Facebook, scheduled to take place from August 11th through 18th. A number of unofficial Tumblr blogs were started to answer questions about the scavenger hunt as well as to help people find teammates.
July 2013: Q&A on Twitter
On July 30th, 2013, Misha Collins participated in a question and answer session about the hunt on Twitter. Ten minutes after his initial invitation for questions, he gave out his personal phone number and invited fans to call him. This message was favorited nearly 16,000 times and retweeted more than 11,000 times. The phone number was active for 36 hours prior to being disconnected.
This typing is too tedious. I feel i could be much more efficient on the phone. Why don't you just call me with questions. (323) 790-4967— Misha Collins (@mishacollins) July 30, 2013
Fans recorded their unsuccessful attempts to call and text Collins as well as successful conversations on Tumblr with the tags #Misha Collins Phone Number and #Misha Callins. A number of screenshots from these posts were shared on Buzzfeed, the Daily Dot and SocialNews Daily.
The Daily Dot – “Supernatural” star posts phone number, politely trolls fans
SocialNews Daily – Misha Collins Gives Out Number On Twitter, Typing ‘Too Tedious’
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