How Does America’s Tallest Man Buy Shoes?

ROCHESTER, Minn. (WCCO) — The tallest man in America happens to live in Rochester, Minn. Igor Vovkivinskiy is a towering 7 feet, 8 inches tall.

“When we came to the United States from the Ukraine, I was almost 7 years old. At that time I had already surpassed my mom in height. I was already 6 feet tall.”

A tumor in his pituitary gland is to blame for his height. Now 29 years old, his dramatic size is record-breaking, and when it comes to footwear, he’s off the charts.

“Nobody makes my shoe size, probably for six or seven years, I don’t even know what my shoe size is.”

Vovkivinskiy says he’s down to a lone pair of shoes with little to no support left and no traction.

For a guy who’s had 15 foot surgeries in the last three years, it’s put him in a challenging situation.

“Not having shoes has basically handicapped me, partially,” he said. “It’s been pretty depressing at times.”

The residual pain from those surgeries makes it difficult for him to stay on his feet at times, so he moves around the house in a motorized wheelchair.

He’s taking college courses online instead of on campus. And he doesn’t spend time with friends like he used to.

“I try to avoid thinking about what I could be missing with shoes,” he said.

Vovkivinskiy says a pair of shoes with proper support would change his life, would help him lose weight he gained during bed rest and gain back the muscle he lost.

But getting a new pair of shoes will be a feat.

Seven years ago when a German cobbler made him three custom pairs of shoes he wore a size 26, but his series of surgeries have physically changed the shape of his feet.

“Both feet are different.”

Vovkivinskiy says he’s contacted several shoe companies and only heard back from Reebok. He says he was told it would cost $15,000 to have shoes made for him, money not in the budget for this college student.

With the encouragement of his friends, he started a web page and started collecting donations.

“I am amazed and pleasantly surprised, shocked at how generous people have been to me,” he said.

Two weeks in, $2,700 later, and bolstered by a lot of supportive messages, Vovkivinskiy feels he’s one step closer to a better fit and a better life.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do first when I get that pair of shoes,” he said. “I have so many things I want to do, just a simple walk.”

WCCO contacted several shoe companies about Vovkivinskiy’s story. We did hear back from Reebok. A company spokesperson says they are planning to help him, and will have more details in about a week.

Click here to visit Vovkivinskiy’s website.

More from Holly Wagner
  • pink

    I agree. It’s also called MN NICE, Redwing shoes are FANTASTIC

    • Joe

      Sounds like a win win

    • Jim Dea

      That reporter next to Igor looks like my Beagle and my Great Dane. When they play, my Great Dane puts the Beagle’s head in her mouth completely! IIt’s like her head disappears.

  • Sentamu Gave Me My First Pair of Shoes – Kayanja |

    […] How Does The us&#39s Tallest Male Purchase Footwear? “Nobody tends to make my shoe size, probably for six or seven a long time, I don&#39t even know what my shoe measurement is.” Vovkivinskiy claims he&#39s down to a lone pair of shoes with small to no help still left and no traction. For a guy who&#39s experienced 15 foot surgical procedures in the very last 3 … Examine much more on CBS Local […]

  • Sue

    The Vikings could use this guy.

    • nathan

      I’ve bought Ralph Lauren shirts for $3 at Goodwill.

    • Cj

      you are truly an idiot….can you afford a $15,000 pair of shoe. And you contradicted yourself….if you are trying to say he is spending too much on a shirt, dont say he can get the shirt 60 bucks cheaper someplace else, which he might have done and would shoot your “he can afford a pair of shoes” theory down the tubes.

    • 8644


    • Nammers

      And how do you know HE paid $75 for the shirt. It could have been donated to him or he could have purchased it at a gargage sale or at a second hand store.

    • somepeopleskids

      Uh how the hell do you know he didn’t buy it at Kohls, genius? You’re obviously the ‘Dope” Think before you talk next time

  • Reggie Lynch

    Red Wing Shoe has made Igor some foot-ware already… The “big” problem in his case, is that the shape of his foot has changed. The “foot form” whuch is called a last, wouldn’t fit him anymore. Generating a new last is the big stumbling block here. Even if they ordered a new set of lasts in his foot form, they might be a one-time use item, as his foot shape may change again….Last creation is a spendy proposition !! ….???Maybe make a wax “one-time last ???

    • Truth is tough

      I get what you are saying — would it not be for now more cost effective to have an old fashioned cobbler create a couple of pairs ?
      I have a friend in Montreal who has a foot that was badly mangled in a mine accident. Reconstructed several times but still “odd”. He is in same shoe (pun folks – ;-) ) and has had to have them done there. Think he said $1200 or so – not an ortho shoe but comfortable for him and affordable. His foot changes in time with calcium and other things that are involved.
      What a time for RedWing or another company to say he’s what we can do and then let someone else work out the rest. A Win-Win and Win for the company/person to play 3rd party. Think youtube or whatever.
      Let’s go folks – let’s figure this out and get that 3rd party somehow.
      We can build a stadium for the Vikes but cannot help out a guy like this …. please don’t say that’s the fact or I am humiliated to death

  • Truth is tough

    Holly’s a cute lil’ toy doll and lucky this isn’t the Hunger Games eh lol

  • Sheila

    Actually there is a place called White or White’s Boots. You draw your foot and take measurements around and up and they will make boots/shoes to fit your feet and they have a lifetime warrenty (will rebuild them). I believe they are out west)

    • Steve in Texas

      YUP…… Whites is the way to go….
      I had a pair for almost 8 years, the only reason I stopped wearing them was that my house burned to the ground.

      • 8644

        Sorry to hear….

  • Igor Needs Your Help | l'etoile

    […] his predicament and donate to help him get a pair of comfy new Reeboks. WCCO’s Holly Wagner visited Igor this week and here is the heartbreaking interview she took. (Video not embeddable; click HERE to […]

  • Martha

    His shoes are special because he doesn´t have a standard size. Each foot measures different, because he went through 16+ surgeries. It is very difficult for him to travel and he will need 2 seats for airplane. The only way he can have his shoes made is with a 3D foot scanner and this equipment is real expensive to use.

  • Ed Olson

    He seems like such a nice guy. Why do we want to buy him shoes from China,
    when Red Wing Shoe Company is just down the road? He lives in Minnesota, lets get him some Minnesota made shoes!

    • dave

      minnesota assembled shoes. most redwings are manufactured in china and assembled in redwing plant accross the country. very few of the boots and shoes red wing sells are 100% made in america anymore. sad to say.

  • cheryl hastings

    I did some looking online last night and i found
    they are affordable and i emailed her she emailed me back.
    Thanks for your interest in my custom made shoes and boots. Making shoes for that fellow would be the same as making shoes for anyone else—I would just use more materials. I make shoes based on foot, ankle and leg measurements rather than size. I’ve made very large shoes before and added a 15% materials fee to the price. Thanks for passing on my information to interested parties. Warmly, Sara McIntosh, Master Cobbler.


    Custom Made Footwear

    studio by appointment:

    4723 N Winchester

    Chicago, Il 60640

    773.334.2248 [o]

    312.608.6788 [c]


    Wow, what a wonderful outpouring of offers for help.

  • Joe Blough

    They should get Goodyear or Firestone to make this guy a pair of shoes. It’s gonna take more than just an ordinary shoe construction using more material to make something durable for him.

  • Dan

    I have an idea. The University of Wisconsin – Stout is located only about 1 hour from Rochester. They are a polytech school that has the tools and machinery needed to design and create products made of foam, plastic, rubber, etc. Combine this with the schools fashion design program and you have all the components and capabilities needed to make a shoe. This would be a great collaborative senior project or capstone type project and the students could churn out multiple pairs of shoes for this man to own. Just a thought, but I think that if you got ahold of the right person at the University that this would idea would be a shoe in ;)

  • teaisstronger

    The Chinese probably have his size in stock. Give the Chinese embassy a call.

    • 8644

      Sad, but true….

  • IvanK

    If I owned a shoe company, I would jump at the opportunity to make this fellow a closet full of shoes. Geez, the publicity alone would be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Just think the attention you would get if you placed a pair size 26-28 pair of shoes on display in your stores!

  • Future Voices of America – Help the Tallest Man in America

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  • angelcarver

    here we have it folks! living proof big foot exists and stuff

  • Kat

    In every crowd, there’s always a stupid moron who can’t simply stick to the topic, but who has to turn it political – in either direction. Grow up.

  • Strange

    He has money for a motorized wheelchair, but not shoes? Seems a bit odd.

    • Sam

      The problem is that no one makes shoes his size. Now days, motorized wheelchairs are virtually free through insurance or special medicair programs. For whatever reason, insurance may not cover a new pair of shoes for him.

    • Praiseun2Jesus

      THe motorized wheelchair was probably covered by insurance.

  • Andrew P.

    Seriously Ryan, shut up. This story does not need to be politicized. People like you bug me because I’m a conservative GOP’er, and you make us all look like f***ing idiots.

    Besides, your “evidence” regarding Obamacare is based on a YouTube video.. Great, thanks. I don’t agree with it either, but I use the language of the law as my evidence – you use YouTube. (Nobody ever lies or has an agenda on the internet, right?!?)

    Fool. Poor Igor just needs some shoes, and you turn this into something political. Additionally, you’re kind of a d**k. Either A) you have $15k lying around, and are unwilling to give it out unless the recipient accomplishes something that is impossible for one man to accomplish, or B) you don’t even have $15k available, and therefore you are a false-promise making liar. Which is it, amigo?

  • Joe Moe

    This looks like a semi-scam. He has a brain and a pair of hands. He ought to be able to figure out how to build his own shoes and shoes for all the world’s other acromegalics at $2000 a pair.

  • Richard_Iowa

    How about this? Could someone make a cast of his feet. Then find an engineering firm, or university, that has a 3-D printer and make an exact copy of his feet, and use that to make his shoes. Seems like it should work.

  • Eddie

    Why doesn’t he learn how to make his own shoes? That’s what I would do.

  • Stephen

    He should setup a page on then we can all help him out!

  • steve5150

    This guy is tailor made for a shoe commercial. I am shocked that some company hasn,t already jumped on the idea.

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