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Who's the Tallest Man in the World?

The Guinness World Records bestowed the title of Tallest Living Man in America on Igor Vovkovinskiy of Minnesota last week. The 27-year-old Vovkovinskiy is 7 feet 8.33 inches (2.34 meters) tall, according to Guinness World Records, and wears a size 24 10-E shoe. He beat out the previous record-holder, George Bell, a deputy sheriff from Virginia, by just one-third of an inch.

Vovkovinskiy is pursuing a degree in paralegal studies at the Minnesota School of Business, where he has a hard time fitting into the desks, according to Guinness World Records.

Accelerated and excessive growth, a condition known as gigantism, can occur in children who have tumors in their pituitary glands, according to the Mayo Clinic. Such tumors can cause the gland to produce too much growth hormone.

But even Vovkovinskiy would have to look up to the man who currently holds the title of Tallest Man in the World. Sultan Kosen of Turkey can boast that, at 8 feet 1 inch (2.46 meters) tall, he is nearly 5 inches taller than America's tallest man. Kosen, who is also 27 and works as a farmer, is one of only 10 cases of humans reaching a height of 8 feet or more, according to Guinness World Records, and is the first to be measured at that height in more than 20 years.

Kosen grew at a normal rate until he was 10, but then developed a condition called pituitary gigantism, which was caused by a tumor, according to the BBC. When the tumor was removed, he stopped growing. He has said that, although it is hard to find shoes and clothes that fit, there are advantages to being so tall, such as being able to help his mother by changing light bulbs and hanging curtains, according to Guinness World Records.

Still, American Robert Wadlow holds the title of Tallest Man Ever. Wadlow stood at 8 feet 11.1 inches (2.72 meters) tall. Wadlow, who was born in Alton, Ill., in 1918, would have towered one foot and three inches over Vovkovinskiy and 10 inches over Kosen. At one point, Wadlow weighed 491 pounds (222 kilograms) and consumed about 8000 calories a day.  He died at age 22 from a septic infection brought on by a blistering ankle brace.

Wadlow wore shoe size 37AA and a size 25 ring. By the time he was nine, he could carry his father, who was 5 feet 11 inches tall (1.8 meters) up the stairs of their home, according to Guinness World Records.

"It feels good to finally have proof that I am the Tallest Man in America," Vovkovinskiy said, upon winning the title of Tallest Man in America. "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!"

Karen Rowan
Karen came to LiveScience in 2010, after writing for Discover and Popular Mechanics magazines, and working as a correspondent for the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. She holds an M.S. degree in science and medical journalism from Boston University, as well as an M.S. in cellular biology from Northeastern Illinois University. Prior to becoming a journalist, Karen taught science at Adlai E. Stevenson High School, in Lincolnshire, Ill. for eight years.