Tuesday, June 19, 2018
News Roundup

Holy smokes! It's an 18-foot-long stogie

CLEARWATER

A cigar, by Merriam-Webster definition, is "a small roll of tobacco leaf for smoking."

The 1,600-pound stogie crated inside a Clearwater warehouse Monday is therefore problematic.

At about 18 feet long and 3 feet wide, the Gran Habano Corojo #5 El Gigante is billed as the World's Largest Cigar.

Some aficionados would call it a novelty stick. A pickup-length nicotine burrito.

But recently, it sold to a private collector for $185,000.

"Technically, you can smoke it," said Juan Panesso, a cigar dealer in Westchase who buys and sells rare smokes.

And maybe you could smoke it — if you were about 190 feet tall.

"It has traveled the country," said Panesso. "I guess it's the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile of cigars."

The secretive client contacted Panesso's family business, Cigarsdirect.com, two weeks ago with a wish list. At the top: Find me El Gigante. Panesso, 38, won't reveal the man's identity, only that he lives abroad and is "very, very famous."

"If I told you the country, I'd give it away," he said.

Panesso ordered El Gigante, which contains enough Nicaraguan tobacco to roll 25,000 normal-sized cigars, from the owner in Miami. His buyer received a $15,000 discount — the cigar was originally priced at $200,000. The client also requested 800 high-quality but pocketable stogies, Panesso said, for an additional $105,000.

El Gigante traveled Sunday by Ryder Truck to Clearwater. Panesso stored it in his friend's airplane parts warehouse in Clearwater.

"It took us two days to build a crate," he said.

El Gigante is scheduled to fly by private plane today to the undisclosed location.

Panesso doesn't know if his client will attempt to smoke it.

Danielle Paquette can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 445-4224. Times staff writer Meredith Rutland contributed to this report.

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