Bill Gates remains the world’s most admired man, but Angelina Jolie has now been replaced by Michelle Obama as the world’s most admired woman
Michelle Obama has supplanted Angelina Jolie as the world’s most admired woman, according to YouGov’s annual study of which public figures the people of our planet look up to.
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.
Microsoft founder Bill Gates remains the world’s most admired man. He’s topped the list every time YouGov has conducted the survey.
In fact, the top five men remain unchanged since last year. 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.
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.
Only two new men join the top twenty this year, both Indian actors: Shahrukh Khan and Salman Khan.
The top twenty most admired women sees five new faces this year. Two are married to the world leaders: Melania Trump and Chinese singer Peng Liyuan, who is the wife of president Xi Jinping. They are joined by Chinese scientist Tu Youyou, Indian actress Sushmita Sen and US talk show host Ellen DeGeneres.
Entertainers dominate the female list, with 12 of the most admired women being actresses, singers or TV presenters (although some, like Emma Watson and Angelina Jolie, are also notable for their humanitarian work). By contrast, the list of most admired men contains more people from political, business and sporting backgrounds.
Portuguese footballer Cristiano Ronaldo and Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan have climbed the highest up the tables since last year, both having risen three places to seventh place and seventeenth place respectively. Indian actress Aishwarya Rai has fallen the furthest, down five places to sixteenth.
Barack and Michelle Obama are the most admired people in America
Within the United States, former President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle are the most admired man and women. Barack Obama is tailed by Donald Trump, Clint Eastwood, Bill Gates and Dwayne Johnson. The most popular women in the US after Michelle Obama are Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Melania Trump. Ellen DeGeneres and Queen Elizabeth II.
Three of the Democratic presidential contenders also make it onto America’s Most Admired list: Joe Biden is the 6th most admired man in the US, followed by Bernie Sanders in the 7th spot. Elizabeth Warren also made the list, as the 13th most admired woman in the country.
They aren’t the only political figures on the list. Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton are the 7th and 8th most admired women in the country, followed immediately by former UN ambassador Nikki Haley. Ivanka Trump also makes the list as the 11th most admired woman in the United States.
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:
2019 world's most admired – country breakdown
Numbers show the percentage share of admiration for each person in 41 countries worldwide
Choose a country to see the most admired people worldwide
By asking respondents two questions, we can understand both the breadth (i.e. global reach) and the intensity of a person's support.
Altogether, we polled in countries that constitute more than two-thirds of the world's population. However, some parts of the world were better represented than others, so we weighted up the impact certain countries had on the final scores and weighted down others so the global scores more accurately reflect the breakdown of sentiment in the world overall.
All of the surveys were conducted online, and in many of the countries the internet penetration is low to the point where the sample can only be said to be representative to the online population. The countries where the online population is lower than 60% of the total are China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, and South Africa.