Tech by VICE

Does Jeff Bezos Have Huge Feet? An Investigation

A Motherboard investigation reveals the richest man in America's shoe size.

by Samantha Cole
24 February 2020, 10:15am

Image: Mega

This article originally appeared on VICE US.

“To photograph people is to violate them, by seeing them as they never see themselves, by having knowledge of them that they can never have; it turns people into objects that can be symbolically possessed. Just as a camera is a sublimation of the gun, to photograph someone is a subliminal murder—a soft murder, appropriate to a sad, frightened time.”

- Susan Sontag, On Photography, 1977

"The feet pics, darling. It's been 15 days. You don't want to make me angry."

- An internet meme, 2018

*

Everyone in New York has a story about a close-call with a celebrity. In a city that's home to one million millionaires and almost 80 billionaires, a run-in with the rich and famous is bound to happen eventually. I don't frequent the right ticketed sex parties and don't have the foresight to book tables 10 months in advance, so this is a rare occasion for me. But one time, I showed up to an indie zine fair allegedly 10 minutes after Jeff Bezos, his body-double, and a bodyguard detail, left.

My only regret in my entire six years as a Brooklyn resident is not leaving my apartment for this event even 11 minutes earlier. Not because I need to get a glimpse of that shiny head perusing anti-capitalist art, but to get a peekie-see at his feetsies.

Months later, I found myself standing at the entrance of the Liberty Ferry in Battery Park on a 30-degree day, gazing at a spot where Bezos walked last spring, closely examining the stones where his shoes once tread. How big were those shoes, I would ask myself on this unholy pilgrimage.

To the general public, the size of Bezos' feet is a mystery no one seems to have the answer to except the man himself. I sought to discover it.

THE CURRENT CLAIMS

There are dozens of websites devoted to celebrities' bodily measurements, including statistics about their height, weight, eye color, age, and astrological signs. Most of these sites include an entry for Bezos and on average, they agree on the basics: He's five feet, seven inches tall, weighs around 154lbs, is 57 years old, and has brown eyes.

Some sites go further than others, but most conflict on the feet. Several attempts have been made to try to guess the size of his feet. Gossipgist.com says they're a 14, a size so large and uncommon, most shoe size charts don't list it, and that sometimes require a special order. Celebrityboss.com says 10. Celebrityinside.com cites his "distinctive features" as being his cleft chin, asymmetrical eyes (the right one is always a little bit more closed than the left), and his "style of laughing." This last note is haunting, but it's not what I'm here for.

WikiFeet Men—"the collaborative celebrity feet website"—also lists Bezos' foot size as "unknown." And if the good folks of wikiFeet don't know, it's safe to say that no one really knows the truth, except the man himself.

In 2004, Amazon's top reviewer Joanna Daneman crossed paths with Bezos at an Amazon-sponsored event, and noticed that "he has really large feet." So large that, six years later, these flippers stand out in her memory. Then again, she also characterizes him as "really tall," which he objectively is not.

He is 5'7. His feet can't be that huge.

There's scant data available on any sort of foot-to-height average, but anthropometric data from the University of Rhode Island cites an average ratio of 6.6:1—for every 6.6 inches of height, average males have one inch of foot length. For Jeff's 67 inches, we could assume his feet are 10.15 inches long, approximately a size 8.5. But Bezos, one of the richest and arguably most powerful men to ever flap his footsie-wootsies across this humble planet, is no average man. Perhaps his body defies norms as well.

My working hypothesis at this point is that as a short-to-average height man, and a billionaire, he carries himself as if he's a much taller dude, but maybe his feet are disproportionately large compared to the rest of him, making them seem enormous in photos and eyewitness accounts.

We have to confirm via forensic photo analysis.

EXHIBIT A: THE SHOE THAT FITS

Bezos' wikiFeet entry contains a handful of paparazzi photos, mostly of him barefoot or in sandals on vacation. In some, his feet seem very large. In other photos, the perspective changes, and his feet seem impossibly petite.

One thing is for certain: the man fills out a pair of strappy sandals. I thought these were Birkenstocks, due to their iconic two-strap slide design, so I emailed a handful of Bezos feet pics to the Birkenstock company, hoping for some enlightenment.

A spokesperson replied within 20 minutes: "Hey Sam, they are not Birkenstock."

I asked Zappos, which is owned by Amazon and therefore Bezos, if it could help ID the size or shoe. A spokesperson there, while apologetic, was unable to give me any information.

But the UK tabloid Daily Mail had the answer all along: They're a $531 pair of Prada slides. Reinvigorated with hatred for the rich, I turned to the foot fetishists of Reddit.

I messaged the mods of r/CelebrityFeet, a forum devoted to celebrity feet, my very earnest request for help. Do they know anything about these elusive sweeties? If they do, they aren't telling. I was promptly silenced for even asking:

celebrity feet reddit

When I asked a mod for r/jeffbezos if they knew anything about their #1 guy's feet, they told me to "learn to code." On to the next.

I messaged u/jokes_on_you, who helped me debunk the faked Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez foot pic last year, if he'd be willing to lend his trained eyes to the investigation of Bezos' feet. He asked me to send my own foot pics in exchange for information, which in a non-journalistic context might be a fair price to ask. But according to Motherboard editor-in-chief Jason Koebler, trading quid-pro-quo foot pics with a source would "set a bad precedent."

Fine.

EXHIBIT B: THE SUPERYACHT TENDER

In the wikiFeet photos, Bezos strolled his $531 Pradas through a December 2019 vacation, set aboard fellow bald billionaire David Geffen's yacht in St. Barth's. This big boat, I learned, is named the Rising Sun, and is manufactured by ship builder and navy contractor Lürssen, which also manufactures naval ships armed for warfare.

(The photos, it turns out, are owned by a firm called The Mega Agency. We know this because we bought one of these photos from the company for the very reasonable price of $250.)

Rising Sun is a 453-foot long superyacht, and has capacity for at least one "tender," the name for the little day-excursion sized boats that come with ships that big. One of the wikiFeet photos from the St. Barth's trip is a group picture on a tender, seemingly exploring some sea cave, with Bezos front and center, barefoot.

His feet look humongous in this photo. Most usefully for our investigation, his left foot is placed right next to a straight line of paint on the floor. If we knew the square footage of the floor area of this tender, we could potentially deduce the length of this piece of floor paint—and therefore, the foot.

I emailed Lürssen, maker of $200 million yachts and war vessels, and definitely did not mention any feet. But they still wouldn't give me anything helpful.

"We do not comment on our yachts (or their tenders) to the press as a matter of confidentiality," Timothy Hamilton, director of Lürssen Americas, replied. "Best of luck with your article; it sounds interesting!"

Timothy, you have no idea.

EXHIBIT C: CLINTON CASTLE FLAGSTONES

At this point, powerless and frustrated at our inability to learn a simple fact about a multi-billionaire whose unprecedented empire is in part fueled by the wholesale and dangerous collection of data on millions of innocent civilians, we reached out to a true professional for help.

Motherboard managing editor Emanuel Maiberg contacted Eastern Europe/Eurasia lead researcher and trainer Aric Toler at Bellingcat, the award-winning open source investigations team that previously used images posted to social media to discover key information about the downing of flight MH17 in Ukraine and unmask Russian government assassins.

Toler generously agreed to aid our investigation. We were heartened to hear from him that we were on the right track. "If anyone can figure it out, it's wikiFeet," he said, before we explained that it was not responding. Then he, too, suggested we find a photo of Bezos' feet next to an object we can measure. But while we were fixated on the photo of the Big Foot on the superyacht tender, Toler provided this crucial image of a Bezos photo opp in Battery Park. More specifically, according to the Getty Images caption, "Statue Cruises Terminal in Battery Park in New York."

Jeff Bezos
Jeff Bezos arrives at the Statue Of Liberty Museum Opening Celebration at Battery Park on May 15, 2019 in New York City. Getty Images

Here, again, we have more straight lines next to his feet, in the form of large, identical flagstones. This we could work with; if we could get down there and measure the stones, we could theoretically calculate a rough foot length.

Before I headed out to wander Battery Park on a very cold February afternoon, Koebler, Maiberg, and I did some Google Street View exploring to find the exact location the photo was taken.

slacks1
slacks2

In the Getty photo, everything in the background is slightly compressed—a result of using a telephoto lens, as photojournalists capturing Bezos often use. But I had my landmarks: a distinctive bush, some columns, this gray monument building, and Castle Clinton.

With the coordinates dialed in (40°42'11.7"N 74°00'59.4"W) I headed to Manhattan's southernmost tip to walk in Bezos' footsteps. As I got closer to the spot we'd seen in photos, I saw the flagstones.

castle clinton
The spot from the Getty photo, featuring the park ranger who watched me while I measured the ground.

I moved slightly out of view of a park ranger and got to work taking measurements. Each stone is about 55 inches by 52.5 inches.

1582293582459-IMG_20200220_150312
1582293606280-IMG_20200220_150354

I sent this data back to Maiberg's forensic photo lab (Microsoft Paint) and he set to work:

slacks3

If a little more than four and a half of Bezos' shoes fit in one of these stones lengthwise, that's around 11.9 inches of shoe.

slacks4

If you account for the shoe being a little bit bigger than the foot inside, and reference various shoe and foot size charts, one can assume his feet are around 11 inches long, between a size 11-12.

These measurements are obviously not accurate to the nanometer, but even by the widest margin, the length of Bezos' shoe is between 10 to 12 inches long. It is likely somewhere closer to the middle of those two extremes, and while we don't know for sure, we are confident that his feet are not notably large, and certainly not a daunting size 14.

At least in this respect, Bezos is just an average man.

RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

If I'm being honest with myself, I don't feel better with this information. Maybe some things should remain mysterious.

Throughout this investigation, however, when I ranted and raved in dark hours to friends and loved ones about my week-long quest, several people asked, "Why?"

The pursuit of knowledge is always worthwhile. If the tagline of the newspaper Bezos himself purchased is to be believed, "Democracy Dies in Darkness." Information wants to be free. Etc. The feet of a billionaire should be no less subject to scrutiny than, say, the feet of a congresswoman. When the boot is on your neck, measure it.

Amazon did not respond to a request for comment on the size of Jeff Bezos' feet.

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