It’s Nice to Know I’m Not Alone in Whom I Admire

Each year, YouGov takes a survey of people from around the world so that they can compile a list of the world’s most admired men and women.

This year, the study expanded to cover the views of people in 41 countries – the most ever – with more than 42,000 people being interviewed to compile the list.

Here is an explanation of the methodology:

In December, YouGov gathered open-ended nominations from panelists across 41 countries, asking them simply: “Thinking about people alive in the world today, which [man or woman] do you most admire?” These nominations were then used to compile a list of the 20 men and 20 women who received the most nominations and were nominated in at least four countries. An additional 10 popular local figures were added to the lists for individual countries. 

In January, we then used the lists to poll each of the 41 countries asking two questions: “who do you truly admire?”, where respondents could make multiple selections, and “who do you MOST admire?”, where they could only pick one. These two numbers were combined into a percentage share of admiration, displayed to the right of each name in the graphic above and table below, which shows the full results for every country including local celebrities and public figures.

Here are the results:

I find it interesting that the top five men are the same as last year, in the same order.

Microsoft founder Bill Gates remains the world’s most admired man. In fact, he’s been in that position each year of the survey, which started in 2015.

Former US president Barack Obama comes in second, and the third to fifth places are all occupied by Chinese figures: actor Jackie Chan in third, president Xi Jinping in fourth and businessman Jack Ma in fifth.

Michelle Obama has replaced Angelina Jolie as the world’s most admired woman. In fact, the American actress, filmmaker and humanitarian has fallen from first place last year to third place this year, with US talk show and philanthropist host Oprah Winfrey coming second in the 2019 list. Rounding out the top five are Queen Elizabeth II and English actress Emma Watson.

Here is the complete list of the top 20:

The survey can also be broken down by country. Here are the top 10 most admired men and women in the U.S.:

I am happy to see the Obamas at the top of the list, and by a significant margin. To me, they were, and still are, the embodiment of everything I find admirable: class, humility, kindness, compassion, and humor.

It’s even more impressive since it has been over two years since they occupied the White House, yet people still have great respect for them.

I’m also a big fan of Bill Gates, so it’s nice to see how admired is both in the U.S. And like the Obamas, this is despite the fact he is longer involved on a daily basis with the organization that made him rich and famous.

It would have been interesting to see where Steve Jobs would have ranked on these lists. Since Elon Musk rates so highly, I think Jobs would have as well.

You can also view the results by each of the 41 countries to see whom they voted for.

It’s also interesting to see two of the male 2020 Democratic Presidential candidates on the top 10, but none of the women. Elizabeth Warren was ranked 13th in the U.S. list. I wonder if this could be an early predictor of the eventual candidate.

It also seems that U.S. athletes are not as admired as some global athletes are. There are only two athletes on the list, and they are both soccer players from outside the U.S. (Messi and Ronaldo). This is true for both the global ranking and the U.S. ranking.

As always, these sort of rankings fascinate me, and it’s always nice when I agree with most of the results.

Shout out to the blog The Enlightened Mind 622 for making me aware of this survey.

19 thoughts on “It’s Nice to Know I’m Not Alone in Whom I Admire

  1. A mixed list by my rankings! But Queen Elizabeth is still there, literally a life time ( the life time of most of her subjects ) of being dignified and honouring the sacred oaths she took at her coronation. A head of state above politics is still a good thing! Yes to the Obamas, perhaps you could have them become your royals!


  2. Unfortunately, I think name recognition plays a large part in such surveys. I would be curious how many people were on the panels and how they were selected. That being said, I, too, am pleased to see the Obamas rate so high but equally saddened to see some of the other names that rose to the top. Great topic for conversation, however.


    1. You’re right, name recognition is a big part of this (although when I checked out the U.S. specific list, there were many names I did not recognize). And yes, I was shocked and depressed at some of the names that made the list.


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