Igor Vovkovinskiy — the Ukrainian-American who carried Ukraine’s Zlata Ognevich on to the stage at Eurovision 2013 — has passed away at the age of 38. He died Friday evening at a hospital in Rochester, Minnesota surrounded by family.
His mother announced the news on Facebook, writing:
“Igor died on August 20 at 22:17 pm in hospital from heart disease. He and his older brother Oleh were with him until the end. His last dinner was: a piece of Kyiv cake and Fanta. A few hours before his death, he was accompanied by Oleh’s wife Alla and children. Igor was glad to see them, and although it was difficult for him to speak, he tried to joke about his nephew Andriy, whether he had learned the Ukrainian language in a month in Ukraine.”
At Eurovision 2013, Igor helped Zlata create one of the most memorable stage shows of the year — a fairytale in which she was a princess with a magical voice. Her performance of “Gravity” placed third, behind only Denmark’s Emmelie de Forrest and Azerbaijan’s Farid Mammadov.
Igor, who stood 7 feet 8 inches tall, was known as the tallest man in the United States and one of the tallest men in the world. His height led to other high-profile appearances, including a role alongside Jason Sudeikis in the 2011 film “Hall Pass”. Many will remember him for wearing a T-shirt that read “World’s Biggest Obama Supporter.”
Paying tribute on Instagram, Zlata shared photos of their time in Malmö along with the words: “Igor, my friend. Your heart stopped beating, but in my heart you are forever”.
Igor, who was born in Ukraine, moved to the United States at the age of seven to receive treatment for a condition known as pituitary gigantism. He was already six feet tall at the time. His doctors explained that his height was the result of having a tumor pressing on his pituitary gland, prompting the release of excessive amounts of growth hormone.
Our thoughts are with his family and friends.