America's most admired men and women

Written by:
January 4, 2019

America's most admired men and women

Despite leaving the White House nearly two years ago, Barack and Michelle Obama are still adored around the country. In fact, the Obamas were named America's most admired man and woman in Gallup's 2018 "Most Admired" survey.  

The annual poll was first conducted in 1946, and asks participants to name the man and woman "living today in any part of the world" that they admire most. Respondents are also asked to provide their second choice.

The survey was conducted in the first two weeks of December 2018, with a random sample of more than 1,000 Americans across all 50 states and Washington, D.C. The winners are ranked by the percentage of respondents who named them as either their first or second choice.

With the latest results now in, former President Obama has been the most admired man for 11 straight years. He's just one first-place finish away from tying Dwight Eisenhower's record of 12 wins. The poll also unseats Hillary Clinton, who has been America's most admired woman for the past 17 consecutive years.

The results were also notable for being the 13th time in more than 70 years that the president did not take the top spot, and honoring Queen Elizabeth with her 50th time included in the top 10.

Click through to see which men and women Americans admire most.

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Most admired men




#11. Mike Pence

Named by 1% of survey participants.

Vice President Mike Pence has long been a staple of American conservatism. The former radio host and congressman was the governor of Indiana before being picked by President Donald Trump to serve as his #2. "I'm a Christian, a conservative, and a Republican, in that order," Pence said when he accepted the Republican vice presidential nomination.


#10. Elon Musk

Named by 1% of survey participants.

Elon Musk's entrepreneurial spirit has earned him a spot among the top 10 most admired men in America. As the founder of SpaceX and Tesla, Musk has served as the mind behind numerous technological advancements, and continues to lead the private sector in rocket science and space exploration.


#9. Joe Biden

Named by 1% of survey participants.

Former Vice President Joe Biden's decades of public service in the U.S. government have earned him praise from Americans across the political spectrum. Biden ended his term as vice president with high approval ratings, and is a possible Democratic candidate for president in 2020.


#8. Dalai Lama

Named by 1% of survey participants.

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, was recognized at the age of 2 as the reincarnation of the previous Dalai Lama. He has been the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists for more than 70 years. With nearly 20 million followers on Twitter, His Holiness has projected a message of peace and compassion that has resonated across the globe.


#7. Bill Clinton

Named by 1% of survey participants.

Former President Bill Clinton is once again among the top 10 most admired men after being left off the list in 2017. Despite being one of the two presidents ever to be impeached, Clinton remains a prominent figure within the Democratic Party. After leaving office, he founded the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation, a nonprofit humanitarian organization.


#6. Bernie Sanders

Named by 1% of survey participants.

Bernie Sanders gained national prominence during the 2016 presidential election when he mounted a unexpectedly popular campaign for the Democratic nomination. The senator from Vermont is the most notable independent politician within the American government, and has long been a champion of progressive policies.


#5. Bill Gates

Named by 1% of survey participants.

As the founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates has accrued a net worth of more than $90 billion. Today Gates is largely recognized for his charitable work with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The organization's goal is to confront global challenges ranging from poor health in developing countries to the faults in America's education system.


#4. Pope Francis

Named by 2% of survey participants.

Pope Francis took the country by storm when he visited the U.S. for the first time in September 2015. Born Jorge Mario Bergoglio in Argentina, Pope Francis is the first Holy Father from the Americas, and is admired for softening several of the Catholic church's stringent policies.


#3. George W. Bush

Named by 2% of survey participants.

President George W. Bush left office in 2009 with dismal approval ratings and a country yearning for change. Nearly a decade later, Bush has largely won over the American public, and enjoys high favorability ratings—so much so that he was named the third most admired man.


#2. Donald Trump

Named by 13% of survey participants.

President Donald Trump has been ranked the second most admired man for the fourth consecutive year. He first earned the title in 2015 with the launch of his long-shot presidential campaign, which would go on to defy the political establishment and successfully secure the White House.


#1. Barack Obama

Named by 19% of survey participants.

Former President Barack Obama takes the top prize for the 11th year in a row. Obama was first voted the most admired man as president-elect in 2008, and is just one first-place finish away from Dwight Eisenhower's record of winning the distinction 12 times. The 44th president left office with high approval ratings, and continues to make waves around the world when he speaks publicly.



Most admired women




#11. Nancy Pelosi

Named by 1% of survey participants.

Nancy Pelosi has been one of the most prominent figures in the U.S. Congress and the Democratic Party for decades. Pelosi became the first woman to serve as Speaker of the House of Representatives, first taking the gavel in 2007. The Congresswoman from San Francisco is a skilled legislator, and has ushered major legislation through the House.


#10. Malala Yousafzai

Named by 1% of survey participants.

In 2012, education activist Malala Yousafzai gained the world's attention after surviving an assassination attempt by the Taliban. Yousafzai has continued speaking out for gender equality and girls' education, and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014.


#9. Nikki Haley

Named by 1% of survey participants.

Nikki Haley's quick rise through Republican politics has made her a household name. Haley served two terms as governor of South Carolina before being selected by President Trump as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.


#8. Ellen DeGeneres

Named by 2% of survey participants.

Ellen DeGeneres is one of the few women outside of politics to be consistently included in the top 10. The TV show host and comedian is a staple of millions of American living rooms, and remains an icon in the LGBT community. DeGeneres was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama in 2016 for her equal rights advocacy, and contributions to media and the arts.


#7. Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Named by 2% of survey participants.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg's judicial career and lifelong fight against gender discrimination has inspired generations of Americans. In 1993, Ginsburg was appointed as the second woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. She has since delivered major rulings on issues ranging from women's reproductive rights to marriage equality.


#6. Angela Merkel

Named by 2% of survey participants.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is considered the most powerful woman in the world, and has been a principal leader in the Western world since the end of the Cold War. Merkel has dominated European politics for more than a decade since becoming Germany's first female chancellor in 2005. She announced last year that she won't seek re-election at the end of her term in 2021.


#5. Queen Elizabeth

Named by 2% of survey participants.

Americans have always been intrigued by British royalty, despite a brutal war to be free of it. Americans admire the royal family so much that Queen Elizabeth has placed in the top 10 most admired women for a record 50th time. The country's affinity for the royals only grew stronger last year with the marriage of Prince Harry and American actress Meghan Markle.


#4. Melania Trump

Named by 4% of survey participants.

First Lady Melania Trump is America's fourth most admired woman. Born in Slovenia, Trump was a fashion model before becoming the second first lady born outside the U.S. She has used her role in the White House to help raise awareness of the issues facing children today.


#3. Hillary Clinton

Named by 4% of survey participants.

Hillary Clinton's 17-year reign as America's most admired woman came to an end in the 2018 poll, where she was voted third. The former lawyer, first lady, U.S. senator, secretary of state, and two-time presidential candidate has been honored with the title a total of 22 times beginning in 1993, when she moved into the White House. While Clinton has largely retreated from the public eye following the 2016 presidential election, she nonetheless remains a fixture in American life.


#2. Oprah Winfrey

Named by 5% of survey participants.

Self-made billionaire and media mogul Oprah Winfrey is America's second most admired woman, having inspired millions of Americans by overcoming abuse and poverty in her childhood. Winfrey first became a household name as the host of “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” and has since gained prominence as a publisher, actress, producer, and philanthropist. This is Winfrey's 14th time taking the #2 spot.


#1. Michelle Obama

Named by 15% of survey participants.

Michelle Obama takes the top prize as America's most admired woman. The country first became enamored with Obama during the 2008 presidential campaign, after which she became the first African-American first lady. During her time in the White House, Obama championed healthy living, service members and their families, higher education, and girls' education around the world. She recently published a best-selling memoir, “Becoming,” which details her journey from Chicago's South Side to Harvard to the White House.

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