André the Giant, a professional wrestler and actor, reportedly wore a US size 24 shoe. André René Roussimoff, better known as André the Giant, was known for his immense size and strength, which was a result of his acromegaly, a hormonal disorder that causes excessive growth. His large shoe size was a reflection of his overall size and stature.
It is reported that Andre the giant wore US size 24 shoes.
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What Size Shoe Did Andre The Giant Wear?
Andre the Giant's enormous stature made him an unforgettable icon in the wrestling world and beyond. Born with acromegaly, a disorder caused by excessive growth hormone, Andre grew to stand over 7 feet tall and weigh upwards of 500 pounds. Naturally, finding shoes and boots large enough to fit Andre's frame was no small feat. So just how big were The 8th Wonder of the World's feet? Here's an in-depth look at Andre the Giant's shoe size and the custom footwear required for a man of his immense proportions.
Introduction – Andre the Giant's Early Life and Diagnosis
André René Roussimoff was born on May 19, 1946 in the small farming village of Molien, France. During his childhood, he exhibited no signs of his future immense growth, with a height and weight average for his age. But nearing adolescence, Andre began to experience a rapid growth spurt that became uncontrollable.
By his early teens, Andre stood over 6 feet tall, and eventually reached a shocking peak height of 7 feet 4 inches. Along with pronounced growth in hands and feet, Andre displayed symptoms like protruding jaw and forehead, excessive sweating, and numbness in his extremities. This led doctors to diagnose him with acromegaly around age 17, caused by a pituitary gland tumor resulting in excess growth hormone.
Acromegaly affects an estimated 50 to 70 people per million globally, more often men. If untreated, the hormonal disorder frequently leads to enlarged hands, feet, facial features, and internal organs along with other health issues. At the time, there was no cure for acromegaly, so Andre simply had to manage his symptoms. This included needing enormously oversized footwear.
Why Did Andre the Giant Need Such Large Shoes?
Andre the Giant's acromegaly, which went unchecked for over a decade, led to an abnormal amount of growth in his hands and feet. As the cartilage in his bones steadily enlarged under the effects of growth hormone, Andre's shoe size expanded exponentially. The soft tissue in his feet grew wider, longer, and thicker, requiring custom shoes many times larger than an average man.
At his tallest, Andre is estimated to have worn around a size 24 shoe in the United States sizing scale. That converts to about a size 58 in Europe. This dwarfs the typical US male's shoe size of between 8 and 14. The famous giant's feet were not only long, but also quite wide requiring shoes made in up to a size EE width to fit his feet comfortably.
Below is a table outlining the progression of Andre the Giant's height and weight over the years along with his estimated shoe size.
|1960||6'7″||260 lbs||Size 15|
|1970||7'0″||365 lbs||Size 18|
|1975||7'4″||505 lbs||Size 24|
|1980s||7'4″||540 lbs||Size 24 EE|
Andre's Actual Shoe Size
Estimates of Andre the Giant's actual shoe size vary slightly, but most sources agree he eventually reached a size 24 US, or about a 58 European. Andre's feet kept growing as he aged so his shoe size was not static throughout his life. In the early to mid-1960s when he began wrestling professionally, Andre likely wore around a size 15.
As his acromegaly progressed and his growth continued into his 20s, his shoe size increased to keep pace with his alarming gain in stature. By 1970, his shoes were around a size 18. Nearing his weight peak in the late 1970s, Andre's shoes soared to an astounding size 24. He reportedly had to special order shoes every year to accommodate his continually expanding feet.
Difficulties Finding Shoes in Andre's Size
Shoe shopping was no easy feat for someone of Andre the Giant's proportions. Department stores and footwear chains do not typically carry men's shoes beyond a size 16 or 17. Anything larger has to be specially ordered from a manufacturer willing to produce such an unusually large size. This made buying ready-made shoes nearly impossible for Andre.
In his day to day life, stories say Andre often opted to just wear flip flop style sandals which were easier to obtain in a size 24. He also frequently went barefoot in his home. Finding tennis shoes or boots in his dimensions was extremely challenging. As fellow wrestler Hulk Hogan tells it, Andre had one pair of Japanese wrestling boots that he cherished and wore constantly since he had no other options.
Andre had to rely exclusively on cobblers and custom shoe makers willing to craft footwear to fit his measurements. The work was labor intensive, requiring entire sides of leather per shoe. The larger the shoes, the more effort it took to construct them durable enough to support Andre's massive frame. Even finding laces long enough could be a headache. Andre's bootmaker Dick Stoner said making his size 24 boots required “two days of hard work.”
Andre's Custom-Made Wrestling Boots
In the wrestling ring, Andre relied on specially made boots to withstand his size and weight. Reportedly, his shoes size when wrestling started around a size 18 in the late 1960s. By the mid-1970s, his left foot measured 24 inches long and needed size 24 wrestling boots. His right foot was slightly smaller at around 23 inches.
Andre wore high top wrestling boots for ankle support, sometimes boosting his height even further with 4 to 5 inch soles. The boots needed to be strong enough to bear over 500 pounds of pressure but still allow flexibility for Andre's signature wrestling moves. The soles were crafted from cut-up tire treads for traction, while soft kangaroo leather provided comfort. Each boot could weigh 15 to 20 pounds on its own.
Over his decades-long career, Andre must have gone through countless pairs of these custom boots. An off-the-rack model would have crumpled instantly under his unmatched mass and strength. Careful customization was essential to create wrestling footwear specifically tailored for the Giant's physique.
Health Consequences of Andre's Outsized Feet
The tremendous stress Andre's enormous frame put on his feet led to various foot problems and injuries over the years. Like many with acromegaly, Andre likely dealt with severe osteoarthritis, causing chronic pain and stiffness in his joints from cartilage breakdown. Carrying hundreds of pounds of weight put exceptional pressure on his feet, resulting in broken bones or even collapsed arches in some cases.
Andre was also prone to developing gout, a form of arthritis that commonly affects the big toe. Gout arises when excess uric acid crystals accumulate in the joints. Having acromegaly makes gout more likely since greater amounts of growth hormone elevate uric acid levels. Standing over 7 feet tall also increased force on Andre's feet, aggravating conditions like gout. Despite the toll on his body, Andre the Giant continued wrestling into his forties.
How Andre's Feet Compared to Other Giants'
While certainly at the extreme end, Andre the Giant is not the only human to have reached such mammoth shoe sizes. Here are some other individuals with comparably sized huge feet:
- The Guinness World Record holder for largest feet belongs to Robert Wadlow, the tallest man ever recorded at 8 feet 11 inches. Wadlow wore US size 37AA shoes, equivalent to 47 normal size shoes and UK size 23.
- Contemporary giant Sultan Kösen from Turkey, who stands 8 feet 3 inches, has worn size 28-29 shoes or up to 75 European size.
- Brahim Takioullah of Morocco, measuring in at 7 feet 9 inches, wears custom made size 26 shoes (68 European size).
- Actor Matthew McGrory was known for his 7 foot 6 height. His shoe size was around 29 1/2 (62 European).
- NBA legend Shaquille O'Neal's shoes were said to be a size 23 during his basketball career.
- NFL football player Jamaal Jackson needed size 24 cleats for his feet measuring 16 inches each.
So while at the extreme end, Andre's feet do have some equals in their enormity, like those of Wadlow, Kösen, or Takioullah. Nonetheless, sourcing suitably giant shoes still proved a nuisance for them all.
Myths and Exaggerations of Andre's Shoe Size
Given his legend, exaggerations about aspects of Andre the Giant's size are common. Some inaccurate claims about his shoes include:
Myth: Andre wore a size 40 shoe. Fact: Size 40 (104 European) would be nearly 4 feet long – his shoes were large, but not that huge. Realistically around size 24.
Myth: Each of Andre's shoes weighed 70 pounds.
Fact: His boots weighed up to 35 lbs, still very heavy, but not 70 lbs per shoe.
Myth: Andre's shoes were as big as baby cribs. Fact: While gigantic compared to average male shoes, his feet were not that big. Size 24 is an exaggeration.
The reality of Andre's true shoe size is impressive enough without embellished claims. While real life accounts differ slightly, consistent reports point to around size 24 as the peak for The 8th Wonder of the World's feet.
What Happened to Andre's Shoes after His Death?
After Andre the Giant passed away in 1993, some of his custom boots and clothing went to collectors and museums to memorialize his imposing career. Both street shoes and ring boots in Andre's size can still be found in sports memorabilia circles today.
The Wisconsin Historical Museum obtained one original size 24 wrestling boot that local cobbler Dick Stoner crafted for Andre in the 1970s. The enormous brown leather boot is on display there, exemplifying just how massive Andre's proportions were.
Other wrestling boots of The 8th Wonder of the World were put up for auction over the years. In 2009, Heritage Auctions sold one of Andre's actual boots for around $6,000. Even his shoelaces were 30 inches long to tie up shoes fitting his colossal frame. Andre the Giant's footwear serves as a testament to how extraordinary his dimensions truly were.
In summary, acromegaly led to Andre the Giant's feet growing to a nearly unbelievable size during his lifetime. Custom boots and shoes had to be meticulously made in up to a US size 24 E to support Andre's unmatched stature. Though manufacturing footwear for The 8th Wonder of the World was an arduous task, his custom shoes enabled Andre to grapple his way to wrestling stardom toweringly.