What started with a pocketful of rubber bands and an idea to cure boredom during the COVID-19 pandemic has stretched into a growing venture for 27-year-old Jayson Brocklesby.
Known locally for his athletic prowess in high school and college sports, Brocklesby of Agnew now goes by Rubber Band Ball Guy on TikTok (@rubberbandballguy), where he’s set the goal to construct a 500-pound rubber band ball.
“With the first video I said to myself, ‘There’s no way I’ll get to a 500-pound ball. That’s going to be huge.’ But it kept growing and growing,” he said.
As the rubber band ball grew, so did viewership, unexpectedly, Brocklesby said.
“I think it was part six (of constructing the ball last September) when I went to 250,000 followers overnight,” he said.
“I woke up to my notification feed with no ending in sight.”
The experience felt unreal, Brocklesby said, so he went to work at 7 Cedars Casino trying to be unfazed.
“Everyone at work told me I popped up on their phone,” he said.
The idea to begin the rubber band ball came in part from working as valet manager at the casino where he’d get dollar bills and need to tie them up.
“Each night I ended up with a handful of rubber bands in my pocket,” Brocklesby said.
So he started making rubber band balls for fun. The idea to film his efforts came to him when the main ball, featured in his videos, hit 75 pounds.
“I have nothing else to do because of Covid, so I thought I’ll make a heavy rubber band ball,” he said.
Dozens of videos later, Brocklesby’s project has been featured at local skate parks rolling the ramps and bouncing from a bridge. He also continues to toy with new ideas, such as making his own giant bouncy ball, and tying rubber bands around a watermelon to make it explode.
This led about 550,000 online followers to him and more than 5.3 million video “likes.”
The ball just reached 400 pounds a week ago, with about 10 pounds of rubber bands set for installation soon, he said.
“The last time I picked it up by myself was around 200 pounds,” Brocklesby said.
“It’s super difficult and about 4 feet around.”
For Brocklesby, it’s a challenge to move it from room to room and even store it.
At the 100-pound mark, the ball broke a table Brocklesby made for it. When he dropped the then-300-pound ball from a window for a video, it rolled and cracked his phone on a tripod.
He recently rolled the ball onto his parents’ deck and broke some boards too, he said.
A rubber band also gave him his first black eye, which viewers can witness in a slow-motion video on his account.
Brocklesby wears goggles to prevent similar incidents and gloves to avoid blisters when building up the ball.
Band of support
At this point, Brocklesby said he’s spent thousands of dollars on common rubber bands to specialty order bands coming from Thailand. But people have gotten on board with building the ball up, he said, sending him money to purchase more rubber bands.
“I was surprised by that and then I felt I should at least send them an item to give back so I started sending out small rubber band balls,” Brocklesby said. “I’ve sent one to Florida and one to Utah.”
He estimates there are upwards of 700,000 bands on the ball so far.
Brockelsby’s videos even made their way to his girlfriend’s tattoo artist at Ravens Claw Tattoo & Gallery in Tacoma with the shop offering to do a rubber band ball tattoo for free. Brocklesby said he’d only do it if he received 250,000 likes on a video.
“I felt it wasn’t going to happen,” he said. “It hit it in less than an hour-and-a-half. So, never dare people to do something on TikTok.”
Looking ahead, Brocklesby has some big ideas and aspirations for his videos. One idea is dropping a rubber band ball from a helicopter to see if he can accomplish a world record.
He’s also been throwing out the idea online that, once the 500-pound ball is complete, he’d it for a Tesla car.
“Being a valet parker, it’s just a nice, reliable car to drive,” Brocklesby said.
He’s also considering making a giant rubber band ball kit along with more child-friendly science experiment videos to continue branching out to younger viewers.
“Kids like silly, educational videos and parents want something they can get behind,” Brocklesby said.
When people learn of his channel, the most common question is, “What’s in the middle?” he said.
“Rubber bands!” he replies.
“I’m pretty sure there’s only one other ball being made that’s bigger in the world … so I have the world’s second largest rubber band ball being made right now,” Brocklesby said.
When it reaches 480 pounds he plans to buy more expensive, multi-colored rubber bands to brighten the ball up, he said.
That 500-pound mark is likely coming up this summer.
“It really depends,” he said. “I hope to be done before the winter time because you can do cool things with it in the summer.”
Brocklesby was sad there wasn’t a gathering for the Sequim Irrigation Festival’s Grand Parade because he was hoping to walk the ball downtown. Now he’s planning to bring the ball to his work at the prompting of his coworkers for the North Olympic Discovery Marathon.
His nieces love the project, he said, and the rest of his “family is coming around to it.”
As for him, the project remains fun.
“I think I’m still a kid at heart,” he said. “Round, bouncy things are fun!”
Again, find Jayson Brocklesby, aka Rubber Band Guy on TikTok at @rubberbandballguy.