Aug. 24, 2021 -- Igor Vovkovinskiy, recognized as the tallest man in the United States, died of heart disease Friday at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. He was 38. His death was initially announced on Facebook by his mother, Svetlana Vovkovinska, an ICU nurse at Mayo.
Vovkovinskiy he came to the U.S. in 1989 seeking medical treatment because his pituitary gland secreted abnormal levels of growth hormone. He ended up staying in Minnesota.
In 2010, at age 27, he traveled to New York City to appear on “The Dr. Oz Show.” An adjudicator from Guinness World Records appeared on the show and declared him the tallest person in America at 7 feet 8.33 inches. He replaced the previous record holder, Virginia deputy sheriff George Bell, by a third of an inch.
"It feels good to finally have proof that I am the Tallest Man in America,” Voykovinskiy said, according to a 2010 Guinness World Records news release. “Everyone is always asking me if I'm certain that I'm the tallest and I was never able to prove it. Now that I have this certificate to hang on my wall, I could finally show it!"
He wore a size 24 10-E shoes and faced “daily challenges” fitting into cars, finding comfortable shoes, and squeezing into desks at school, the news release said.
Vovkovinskiy’s height gave him notoriety. In 2009, President Barack Obama noticed him at a rally wearing a T-shirt saying “World’s Biggest Obama Supporter,” CBS News said.
In 2013, he carried the Ukrainian contestant onstage at the Eurovision Song Contest. Vovkovinskiy also appeared with star Jason Sudeikis in the 2011 film "Hall Pass."
A memorial service was held Saturday in Rochester.
Guinness World Records said the world’s tallest living man is Sultan Kösen of Turkey, who stands 8 feet 2.8 inches tall. The tallest man ever was Robert Wadlow of the United States, who stood 8 feet 11.1 inches. 8 ft 2.8 in