Five Guinness World Records That Are Just Diseases

Meet the most medically unfortunate man in history!
Five Guinness World Records That Are Just Diseases

Ah, the Guinness Book of World Records. An aspirational tome to seek inclusion in. It promises that if you have one singular talent that exceeds every other human on Earth, you’ll forever be immortalized in the waiting room of pediatricians everywhere. A book of humankind’s most obscure achievements, one that single-handedly kept school book fairs in the black for years.

Sometimes, it’s the product of years, if not decades, of hard work, like the people who have trained tirelessly to be able to smash a bunch of coconuts really fast. God forbid, if our world is ever invaded by cruel, sentient coconut men, we will know who to call. In other cases, though, the triumph of making the premier record book feels a little more… hereditary. Not only that, but sometimes, the way you get there isn’t by favorable mutations, but instead via symptoms of an unfortunate sickness.

Here are five Guinness World Records that are mostly just diseases…

World’s Tallest Man

Public Domain

“Do you have any exit row seats?”

A perennial all-star of Guinness, Ripley’s Believe It or Not and other politely phrased forms of freak registry is the world’s tallest man Robert Wadlow. Wadlow was indeed the world’s tallest drink of water, topping out at a staggering 8-feet-11. At that level, you might think to yourself, “Can the human body even sustain that sort of height?” The answer is: No, it can’t. 

His height came from his unfortunate inheritance of gigantism, a condition that tortured him even as it brought him international fame. Beyond the simple inconvenience of trying to source size 37 shoes and extremely custom menswear, his oversized body caused constant health problems. He had to wear supportive braces and special shoe inserts, part of why, outside of the era he lived in, he would never have been the NBA force you would imagine. If Joel Embiid’s knees keep exploding, what chance would Wadlow have? In the end, it’s a tragic story, and even the title of “World’s Tallest Man” feels sadly inaccurate, given that he only lived to the age of 22.

Eating Weird Stuff


Not bad with ketchup!

Another stalwart of the Guinness books is an individual who’s made an impressive meal out of something off the menu of an industrial shredder. Maybe the most famous and decorated of the many not-foodies is Michel Lotito, also known as Monsier Mangetout, which translates as “Mr. Eat-All.” It’s a name that sounds like it’s cribbed from a creatively marketed garbage disposal, and it’s not far off.

His official title, thanks to Guinness, is “strangest diet,” which is impressive when you realize it means he ate so much weird shit they couldn’t pick the coolest one. His lifetime meal receipt includes everything from 18 bicycles to a Cessna passenger plane, thankfully in a whole lot of separate bites. As is the case with most connoisseurs of unideal cuisine, Lotito was thought to have suffered from pica, a condition that causes compulsions to eat pretty much anything but actual food. The only media that might owe pica more thanks for their content is MTV’s My Strange Addiction.

Popping Your Eyes Out


Getting a role in a Mel Brooks movie is probably the best possible outcome.

Another almost completely useless talent that often gets top billing is “farthest eyeball pop.” Not some extremely grim military sniper medal, it’s instead about the person who’s able to push their eyeballs the farthest out of their rightful resting place. Which one is grosser to see, still a toss-up. Between the visual impact and the capacity for “eye-popping” puns, it’s not surprised that it’s more often than not, featured above the fold.

So what bodily configuration allows for such peculiar protrusion? Well, one of the most common assumptions is that the best eyeball poppers suffer from Graves’ disease. Specifically, it’s called Graves’ ophthalmopathy, or, more simply, Graves’ eye disease. Their overactive thyroid causes swelling behind their eye, naturally causing it to push a little further out than anyone would like. It’s the same cause as the famous bulging eyes of actor and comedian Marty Feldman, who you might remember as Igor from Young Frankenstein.

World’s Hairiest Man

Public Domain

At least people dont just assume youre a werewolf nowadays.

Usually, celebrities with iconic hair, facial or otherwise, can usually get an endorsement or two out of it. Unfortunately, the man and family — the Aceves — who hold Guinness’ official record for the world’s hairiest are a less camera-ready brand of hirsute. The hair growth in question isn’t just volume-based, but also massive in real estate, covering almost the entire body of the record holders.

It’s not very pleasant for the family, who obviously but distastefully have picked up all manner of nicknames related to “Wolfman.” A form of lycanthropy that leaves out the agility, strength and moon-based limitations isn’t something most people would sign up for. The actual condition the Aceves family suffer from is hypertrichosis, a disease that can surface in a variety of ways, but the end result of which is a whole lot of hair in places you’d prefer to stay smooth.

World’s Richest Man


Look at all those useless ants!

One of the few records in the Guinness book that people might dream of achieving, it’s one that I can imagine is only possible through deep psychopathy. 

Eli Yudin is a stand-up comedian living in Brooklyn. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @eliyudin and listen to his podcast, What A Time to Be Alive, about the five weirdest news stories of the week on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever else you get your podcasts.

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