Reporting Holly Wagner
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) –- One of the most expensive pairs of shoes in the country now belongs to the tallest man in America.
Igor Vovkivinskiy, 30, of Rochester, Minn., stepped into a $25,000 pair of Reebok sneakers Thursday.
He said they feel “like a cushion inside.”
The cushion is actually memory foam in the sole of the shoe.
A team of 10 Reebok designers used laser technology and molds to custom make three pairs of size 24 shoes.
“Now that I’ve seen them, I’m overwhelmed,” Igor said.
Each pair is personalized with his name, his exact height – seven feet, eight and-one-third inches — and his own logo: a symbol of where he is from.
“The top of it is a national Ukrainian symbol,” Igor said.
The last time Igor fit into a pair of Reebok’s, he was in third grade.
“I never thought I’d have a pair of shoes that looks like something that comes off the shelf,” he said. “To have all of these things personalized specifically to me, it goes above and beyond anything I had hoped for.”
For him, this gift is much bigger than shoes.
“It’s an enormous opportunity now to start doing things I haven’t been able to do.”
Numerous painful foot ailments and surgeries, compounded by his size, have kept Igor from leaving his home many times.
“Walking two blocks, I’m out of breath. I hope this is the road to recovery,” he said.
Justin Kittredge of Reebok helped spearhead the effort to get Igor new shoes. He came to Rochester to personally do the fitting on Thursday.
“From the reaction today, I think we’re definitely on the road to helping Igor to a much more healthier lifestyle.”
Igor says he’ll surely be sporting his new Timberwolves-inspired tennis shoes to a basketball game soon.
For the first time in a long time, Igor says, he’ll be comfortable and proud to walk around in his new shoes.
“Now I’m hoping that instead of my height drawing attention, my shoes are going to be drawing attention,” he said.
Igor initially raised nearly $40,000 from donations on Facebook to pay for the shoes. Reebok since stepped in and said it would cover the entire cost.
Igor says he’ll use the money to buy winter shoes, a pair of sandals, and tuck the rest away to buy shoes in the future. He also said he’s incredibly grateful for the supportive messages and donations he received from people across the country.