Josh Holexa wants to skate through life in free shoes.
The 19-year-old, reportedly sporting the second or third most gigantic feet in the world and the biggest of any teenager anywhere, recently moved to Colorado Springs and is running low on size 24 shoes. He wants people to send him some.
"I'm trying to milk it for all it's worth," said Holexa, who is no stranger to media exposure. "Do you realize how much shoes my size cost?"
We're talking $590 for a decent pair of Converse athletic shoes; $230 for a pair of Nike's and $280 for a pair of Reebok's, he said. A snowboard would cost $14,000. Rollerblades would be as much as $8,000.
Because Holexa's feet are so big, special molds have to be cast. But Holexa isn't a famous basketball player, say, like Shaquille O'Neal (who once sent the young man a pair of his own size 23 shoes). So, as he has in the past, Holexa is appealing to the masses to get shod. (If you are game, send shoes care of the Indy.)
"My sister must have ten pairs of shoes, and I just get crappy Converse high tops that look like clown shoes," Holexa noted.
Holexa used to have a casual arrangement with shoe companies whereby they would send him shoes, and he would promote them during media appearances.
Since he was 16 years old, Holexa has made the rounds to show off his tootsies, appearing on 60 Minutes, 20/20, The Today Show, in The Sun (a tabloid much like The National Enquirer) and on TV shows in France, Germany, Japan, China and England, he said.
But then Holexa had a run of bad luck. He lost the phone numbers and contact people at the shoe companies, and hasn't been able to reestablish contact, he said. In December, he was on his way to Colorado Springs to visit his sister when the driver of his Greyhound bus crashed into 13 or 14 deer elk crossing the road near Craig, Colo.
"I flew at 65 miles per hour into the seats in front of me," Holexa said. He suffered a concussion, nerve damage to his thumb and torn cartilage in his wrist. He hopes for a settlement in the $500,000 range, which would put him on easy street.
But until that happens, Holexa is spending his days in Colorado Springs watching his three nieces during the day and wishing for some new shoes.
Of babes and basketball
Holexa likes his 14 1/2-inch-long feet. He can perform no tricks with them, but they are not smelly, he says. He keeps them clipped and clean. At the end of the day he gives himself a nice foot massage.
And, the feet help him get the babes.
"Oh yeah," he said.
One time when he appeared on a Seattle radio show, the deejay asked him if it was true what they say about men with big feet. Holexa replied in the affirmative. That night, 186 girls called up the radio station, wanting a date.
So the obvious question is, does Holexa play basketball? Yes, of course. He says he's pretty good, but actually likes football better.
"I'm tall, but I'm not tall and lanky," he said.
At 6 feet 9 inches and 275 pounds, Holexa said his doctors have told him he will probably top out at 7 feet 3 inches. His hands already are almost nine inches long.
"I get growing pains," Holexa said. "Women have their own little thing for a few days every month, and every month I have about five days where I can feel myself growing."
Show and tell
Holexa doesn't come from a particularly tall family. His dad is 6 feet 1 inch and his mom is 5 feet 8 inches. His siblings aren't all that tall, though there's a story about a great uncle who stood 6'10".
"I have no gigantism, no diseases, I'm just abnormally tall."
Holexa is used to people staring at him, openly commenting on the size of his feet and his height. When he goes into restaurants, kids giggle and point. His chiropractor's daughter once took his shoes to school for show and tell.
And people give him free stuff, just for being so tall and having such big feet. A tattoo artist spelled out the nickname "Bigfoot" on Holexa's right arm in Old English lettering, and wouldn't take a dime.
A year and a half ago, Holexa dropped out of high school after he had some problems with gang members who pulled a knife on him. He knows he needs to get back in, graduate, and get recruited by one of six colleges whose coaches have already been in touch.
"I'm not really sure if I want to play college basketball or football, or go straight to the NBA," Holexa said. "I could be a pro-wrestler or a bouncer. I'm waiting to see what happens."
"When I get my settlement, somebody will swipe me right up."