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Man who built Eiffel Tower with 700K matchsticks is awarded world record after all

Richard Plaud's matchstick model is now officially record-breaking after Guinness changed its mind and said it had been "heavy-handed in the application of our rules."
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Richard Plaud's matchstick dreams have been rekindled.

Earlier this week, the Frenchman was crestfallen when he was told his 23-foot model of the Eiffel Tower — made from 700,000 matchsticks over eight years — could not officially be called a world record because he had used the wrong matches.

But the Guinness Book of World Records said Friday that it had changed its mind and considers his attempt valid and within the rules.

The entry for the tallest matchstick sculpture on the Guinness website now reads: "The tallest matchstick sculpture is 7.18m (23ft 6in), achieved by Richard Plaud (France) in Saujon, Charente-Maritime, France, on 7 January 2024."

The company had told NBC News on Wednesday that it was reviewing its decision, after the initial ruling that Plaud had used the wrong type of matchsticks because they weren't commercially available.

Mark McKinley, director of central records services at Guinness World Records, said in a statement that having learned more about Plaud's techniques and reviewing the model in comparison to similar attempts, "it seems that we have been heavy-handed in the application of our rules in this case." 

"We are therefore very happy to award Richard with the Guinness World Records title and we have corrected some inconsistencies within our rules which now allow the matchsticks to be snipped and shaped as the modeller sees fit," he said.

McKinley added that Guinness "regrets the distress that the last 24 hours will have caused on what should have been a moment for celebration for Richard."

Plaud told Reuters that the ordeal had been an "emotional rollercoaster," but he never lost hope.

"For eight years, I've always thought that I was building the tallest matchstick structure," he told the news agency.

When Plaud began his epic task back in December 2015, he bought boxes of matches from supermarkets and manually removed the little sulfur stub from each one.

He then struck a deal with a manufacturer to have headless matches sent straight to him — Guinness originally considered this to be grounds for disqualification.

Plaud's story made headlines around the world earlier this week when he took to social media to criticize Guinness' decision.

“Having a world record was a childhood dream. I always had that in the back of my mind,” Plaud told Le Parisien in January.