Professional athletes often do things that remind us they are capable of feats well beyond the abilities of ordinary humans. Look, here is a video of J.J. Watt doing a box jump higher than a Toyota Yaris! Here’s Michael Brantley pulling off this marvel in the 2019 ALCS.
Sometimes, though, you can fool yourself while looking at these displays of skill and begin to underestimate the overwhelming physical differences between pro athletes and the rest of us. “That’s incredible,” you might think, “but if I dedicated my life to such things and performed the same rigorous training, I could probably pull it off, too.” (You can’t, but that rarely stops anyone from pretending—look at all the dudes who think they could score a point off Serena Williams!) For those needing a reality check, it’s useful to have an entirely absurd metric to gauge just how different athletes are from folks like me and you, who are probably reading this on ordinary devices, made for standard-sized hands.
Enter the Boban Goldfish Challenge. It’s simple: How many Goldfish crackers can you hold in the palm of your hand? Is it more than 301? (It is not.) Because 301 is the number that 7’4″ Dallas Mavericks center Boban Marjanović can fit into the palm of his size-one-zillion mitts. That is more than five times what I’m capable of, and—while I don’t mean to brag—my hands are big enough that I prefer to use a Max-size iPhone. We learned this extremely specific metric as part of a TikTok campaign featuring the big man and sponsored by the Goldfish brand, and it is both terrifying and inspiring.
Imagine the scenario: Boban comes to your house, feeling peckish. He asks for a snack, and you invite him to enjoy a handful of crackers from the enormous Costco-size carton on your counter. He thanks you, reaches in, and proceeds to remove nearly one-fifth of the 31-ounce package. That is just one handful. With each thrust of his mighty palm, Boban will extract roughly five and a half servings of crackers, consuming nearly 770 calories per fistful. Soon, you will be out of the lil’ fishy crackers altogether, making ever more frequent runs to the supermarket to get more, more, and still more crackers, as you seek to fill the insatiable maw that seems to live within the Mavs big man.
Or maybe not. Probably, Boban is a gentleman, humble with his cravings, and sufficiently well paid to buy his own fishy crackers. It is still just such a large number of crackers! NBA players, as part of the scouting process, are measured by a series of frankly intrusive metrics—the league’s draft combine compiles and publishes data about every player’s hand width and length—but “how many Goldfish crackers can he hold in one hand” provides context in a way that a mere number (like Boban’s estimated hand length of 10.75 inches, which would be the longest in NBA history) does not. (Boban, 32, did not enter the league through the NBA Draft, so his “anthropometrics” are not official.)
Humans crave that context; without it, these numbers are mere abstractions. It is mildly interesting to know that J.J. Watt can jump 61 inches straight into the air. But it is illustrative—if your goal is understanding how that skill differs from the abilities of most men—to learn that that means he could perform a standing leap directly over Lady Gaga, as long as she wasn’t wearing a very tall hat.
When it comes to Boban specifically, reckoning with his sheer enormity is something of an internet pastime. On the Subreddit r/BobanHoldingThings, users thrill to the context provided by photos of the Serbian star using his big ol’ paws to clutch ordinary items. How big are his hands? Big enough that a puppy can rest comfortably in his palm, big enough that he can easily palm a bowling ball; big enough that a tennis racket looks like a ping-pong paddle in his grip; big enough that he can drag his luggage behind him with his fingertips; big enough that, when he shakes the hand of 4’11” Emmy award–winning actress Kristin Chenoweth, her entire hand is roughly the length of his thumb. The list goes on and on, as the human brain attempts to make sense of not just Boban Marjanović’s Brobdingnagian appendages, but also of the vast gulf between what we think of as a standard-sized human being and what an athlete like Boban actually looks like when compared to the rest of us.
The Goldfish challenge is yet another illustration of this divide, and it’s one that people can’t train their way into or hone their skill in order to dramatically improve (a little steadiness might net you a few extra crackers). Sorry, folks, you have no hope to compete with a fella like Boban on this one. That’s also true on the basketball court, baseball diamond, football field, or tennis court with virtually any other pro athlete, of course. But it’s the fishy crackers that tell us why, precisely, that’s the case.