The Big Lie

If you’re reading this in the United States, it’s probably somewhat early in the day — perhaps it arrived before you woke up. And if you haven’t had your cup of coffee yet, or if you’re just constantly fighting a sleep debt, you probably wish you could go back to bed instead of reading these words. (Sorry, today’s story isn’t going to be any help.) Sometimes, you just want to stay in bed all day.

But how long could you really do that for? And by “that,” I mean, stay in bed? We don’t really mean “all day,” do we? Putting aside a few minutes to grab some food or use the facilities, and of course, excepting medical needs like hospital stays or doctor-mandated bed rest, most of us would probably limit ourselves to maybe 18 hours in a row in bed. Whether boredom or just an aversion to laziness, almost all of us would ultimately just get up and do something.

That’s why most of us would be failures at Montenegro’s annual contest to find the nation’s laziest citizen.

Montenegro is a tiny, often overlooked nation in Eastern Europe (here’s a map) that is home to only 600,000 people; if it were an American state, it would be the 2nd least populous (after Wyoming). And in one respect, it doesn’t have a great reputation, as NPR asserts: “the people of Montenegro have long labored under the reputation for being lazy.” (For example, as the nation’s Wikipedia entry notes, “the Montenegrin road infrastructure is not at Western European standards. No roads meet full motorway standard.”) So starting in 2011, a resort owner named Radonja Blagojevic decided to put the myth to the test — or perhaps, lampoon it a bit. He organized a new event, colloquially referred to as the Lazy Olympics.

The competition has exactly one event: an endurance test to see who can stay in bed the longest. Okay, “bed” is a stretch; Blagojevic lines a room with thin mattresses and invites people to lie down for as long as they can, with the winners getting a cash prize — €1,000, or about $1,055. Before this year, the rules were simple: you had to lie in your “bed” — if you got up (or even sat up), you lost. The record coming into this year? 117 hours, per Reuters.

Previously, as CNN explained, “the rules stipulate that standing or sitting are considered a violation and grounds for immediate disqualification” and “competitors can also read and use cellphones and laptops. (Yes, the mats are positioned next to outlets, as seen above via CNN, so there’s little chance of your device giving up before you do.) But this year, Blagojevic changed the rules a bit, as Balkan Insite explains: “competitors are [. . . ] given three meals a day and have the right to go to the toilet every eight hours.” Previously, getting up to pee meant your time on the mat was over; now, they get a 15-minute break.

As a result, the contest has lasted much, much longer. It kicked off on August 21st of this year and, as of September 23rd, it was still going strong. Per Yahoo, “out of the 21 contestants who entered the competition, just four remain — putting their obligations to family, work and education on hold for the time being.” (The four contestants probably didn’t calculate the hourly late of their efforts.) 

As of this writing, whether a winner has arisen (sorry) has gone unreported.