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The most admired woman on planet Earth? Michelle Obama.

The new YouGov survey also indicates that Barack and Michelle Obama are the most admired couple in the world.

Paras Griffin / Contributor
  • For the survey, YouGov — a British polling firm — interviewed more than 42,000 people across 41 countries.
  • The results showed that the Obamas ranked higher than the Trumps on both the U.S. and international lists of admired public figures.
  • Unlike some former first ladies, Mrs. Obama has led a remarkably public life after leaving the White House.


Former First Lady Michelle Obama has dethroned Angelina Jolie as the world's most admired woman, according to a new YouGov survey. The results suggest that the Obamas are the world's most admired couple, considering that former President Barack Obama was voted the second-most admired man in the world, behind Bill Gates.

In the U.S., the Obamas topped both lists for 2019. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump came in second and third, respectively. These results echoed a 2018 Gallup survey, in which Mr. and Mrs. Obama were voted America's most admired man and woman.

The new survey suggests that the Trumps aren't as admired internationally as they are in the U.S.: Internationally, the president ranked 14th and the first lady 19th.

YouGov noted some differences between the men's and women's lists.

"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)," YouGov wrote in a blog post. "By contrast, the list of most admired men contains more people from political, business and sporting backgrounds."

Interestingly, the Obamas and Trumps weren't the only political figures on the U.S. lists this year.

"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 U.S., followed by Bernie Sanders in the 7th spot," YouGov wrote. "Elizabeth Warren also made the list, as the 13th most admired woman in the country. . . 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."

The Obama's post-White House life

Unlike some first ladies before her, Michelle Obama has done anything but back away from the spotlight since leaving the White House. The 55-year-old former attorney has recently appeared on talk shows and awards ceremonies, and her bestselling autobiography Becoming has sold more than 10 million copies since 2018.

"She's a rock star at this point," Lissa Muscatine, a former speechwriter for Hillary Clinton, told The Guardian. "She's now a political celebrity."

In April, the Obamas unveiled a handful of documentary and film projects that they're developing with their production company Higher Ground Productions and Netflix. Some of those projects include a feature-length film about Frederick Douglas, a post-WWII drama series and a children's show about food.

"We created Higher Ground to harness the power of storytelling. That's why we couldn't be more excited about these projects," Mr. Obama said in a statement. "Touching on issues of race and class, democracy and civil rights, and much more, we believe each of these productions won't just entertain, but will educate, connect, and inspire us all."

Mrs. Obama added in a statement: "We love this slate because it spans so many different interests and experiences, yet it's all woven together with stories that are relevant to our daily lives. We think there's something here for everyone — moms and dads, curious kids, and anyone simply looking for an engaging, uplifting watch at the end of a busy day. We can't wait to see these projects come to life — and the conversations they'll generate."

One reason the former first lady's star seems to keep rising might be because some Americans miss the Obamas, Muscatine told The Guardian.

"People living through Trump have shown a yearning, a nostalgia for the Obamas even though it's only been a few years," she said. "They miss a husband and wife in the White House who took the jobs seriously. So when there's anything Obama, people want more of it."

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