The world’s tallest man just celebrated a pretty major milestone—his 40th birthday! Sultan Kösen stopped by Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! in Orlando to pose for a picture with a statue of the man who previously held the title.
Kösen Celebrates Birthday With A Fellow Giant
Born in 1982, Kösen was of average size up until he turned 10. After that, he grew at an incredible rate due to a condition called pituitary gigantism, which happens because of an overproduction of growth hormone. Kösen’s condition was caused by damage to his pituitary gland, which released an excess of the growth hormone.
Kösen, standing at 8 feet and 3 inches, made his way from his native Turkey to Florida for his birthday celebration. While visiting the Ripley’s museum, he got his picture taken with a towering statue of Robert Wadlow.
Wadlow was once the tallest man alive, and he still holds the title of the tallest man to have ever lived. In 1940, at the time of his last measurement, a 22 year-old Wadlow came in at 8 feet 11.1 inches. He died shortly after.
How Being The Tallest Man In The World Changed His Life
Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! reported that there are only ten confirmable cases of a person measuring 8 feet or more. When measured in 2009, Kösen became the first person to come in at over 8 feet in more than 20 years.
“After that day [that I was announced the tallest man in the world], I was born,” Kösen told Ripley’s. “Before that, I was a very silent person. Now, I can talk. I’m happy. I’m funny. I enjoy my life.”
Kösen’s Birthday Wish: ‘Travel…And To Keep My Record’
His title as the tallest man in the world has meant worldwide recognition for Kösen, as well as opportunities to travel the globe. So far, he has visited 127 countries. When he blew out his candles at Ripley’s Orlando location, Kösen shared his birthday wish—to continue traveling.
“[I want to] travel the remaining countries which I have not visited so far,” Kösen said, then joked, “And to keep my record title. I hope there will be no one taller than me!” It looks like he’ll be holding on to his title of tallest man for many years to come!