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ND Insurance Commissioner Jon Godfread listed as World’s Tallest Politician

Insurance commissioner listed in Guinness records

Submitted Photo State Insurance Commissioner Jon Godfread stands tall in the State Capitol.

BISMARCK – North Dakota can officially lay claim to having the world’s tallest politician in its state government.

N.D. Insurance Commissioner Jon Godfread on Tuesday announced that he has been named World’s Tallest Politician (male) by Guinness World Records. Godfread’s official height is 6 feet, 10 inches, as verified in Bismarck on Oct. 4.

Godfread, 37, said he applied for the record after friends called his attention to the Guinness category because he thought it would bring attention to the Insurance Department, whose administrative functions don’t tend to garner a lot of public spotlight.

“This was a fun opportunity to bring some good news back to North Dakota, and of course, it’s an honor to be recognized as a world record holder,” Godfread said in releasing the news. “This is also a great opportunity to highlight the work we do at the North Dakota Insurance Department and remind consumers that we are a consumer protection agency serving the people of North Dakota. There are no dumb questions when it comes to insurance, even if it’s about my height. We welcome the opportunity to highlight the work we do and the work of my colleagues across the country.”

People often don’t think about insurance until a disaster strikes, he said. He wants North Dakotans to know they can call his office if they have a question or concern about their insurance policies.

“It’s a fun opportunity to highlight again what we are doing in the department but it’s also fun to highlight what’s going on in North Dakota. We are a small state that does a lot of big things,” he said.

To apply for consideration for the record, Godfread visited his family physician’s office to be measured on three separate occasions throughout the day on Oct. 4. He was required to be measured in the morning, around noon and in the evening. Each time, Godfread was measured both standing and lying down. The process was documented with video and photographs to meet requirements of Guinness World Records.

The record for World’s Tallest Politician (male) was previously held by Brooklyn, New York, city councilman Robert Cornegy Jr., who also measures 6 feet, 10 inches. However, in the more exacting measurement of centimeters, Godfread’s height of 210.767 centimeters overtook Cornegy’s 209.6 centimeters. Godfread said his measurement in centimeters actually converts to just under 6 feet, 11 inches. Cornegy had been certified last March, when he was 53 years old.

Cornegy played college basketball at St. John’s University during the 1984-85 season when the team reached the Final Four. Godfread also played college basketball but at Northern Iowa University from 2001-05, reaching the NCAA tournament in both 2004 and 2005.

“Given that we were once both college athletes, I’d be happy to play a little one on one with Councilman Cornegy if it means celebrating how unique we all are,” Godfread said in a news release. “Although, with winter beginning to set in in North Dakota, I’d be happy to give the councilman the homecourt advantage.”

Godfread, who grew up in Grand Forks, was elected insurance commissioner in November 2016. He said he considers his height an advantage in politics.

“The advantages are you stand out,” he said, adding that the potential disadvantage is he’s “not able to hide.”

Because height is self reported, there is a possibility of a taller politician than Godfread somewhere in the world. At the time of Cornegy’s certification, some commentators had stated Croatian Parliament member Peda Grbin might be taller. Grbin has been listed as 6 feet, 11 inches, although that’s not official according to Guinness standards.

North Dakota’s tallest native son wasn’t a politician. Clifford Thompson, who claimed to be 8 feet, 7 inches, was born in Rugby on Oct. 18, 1904. He moved to Wisconsin at age 7 with his family. He appeared in many Hollywood films.

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