With names like Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, among others, it’s needless to say that appearing on this list is the highest of compliments.
But what does it take to appear on such a list?
Though much of the list is inhabited by brilliant minds, entrepreneurs and political icons, a select few figures in the world of sports found their way into the Top 49. Some obvious, and others you may not have expected.
44. Tim Tebow: Though Tebow hasn’t done much since joining the Jets, the quarterback remains a cultural icon due to his positive attitude as well as his devotion to religion and his family. AskMen.com even took the liberty of commenting on the former Bronco’s current playing situation. “Though he’s now used as a spare part for the Jets, he could get back on the field if Mark Sanchez keeps turning in lackluster performances.”
33. Andy Murray: To put it in short, Murray has become the pride of Great Britain. After a heartbreaking loss at Wimbledon to Roger Federer, Murray was able to win the Olympic gold for singles tennis riding a wave of energy from the crowd. After beating Federer in the gold medal match, Murray continued his magical year by capturing his first grand-slam title ever by winning the U.S open.
32. LeBron James: After being harassed by media and critics alike for the first six years of his career James was able to silence everyone in No. 7, as he won his first NBA title. After a scare against Indiana, and an all-out battle with the Celtics in the conference finals, James and his teammates were able to bring an NBA title back to Miami for the first time since 2006.
14. The Replacement Refs: Nobody ever said that this was the “most beloved” list. The replacement refs took the sports world by storm as they progressively got better at blowing calls in extraordinary fashion. As the weeks rolled on, the replacements only got worse and the NFL finally caved. “The league tasked these guys with policing millionaires, superstars and some of the toughest athletes on the planet. What qualified these men to step in? Experience at the college, high school and middle school level. It’s no wonder that there were blown calls and sideshow controversies.”
12. Michael Phelps: “The Greatest Olympian in History,” has a nice ring to it wouldn’t you say? That’s the title that Phelps was awarded after he finished his Olympic career in London. Phelps made it crystal clear that his career in the pool was over, but that his athletic career was not. Phelps has taken up golf and a video of him went viral as he sunk a 159-foot putt while golfing overseas. Looks like the sports world hasn’t heard his name for the last time.
2. Usain Bolt: The Jamaican sprinter left the world in awe for the second consecutive Olympic games as he won another 100 meter gold medal. Sports fans may never know how fast Bolt really is considering he slows down to be a crowd pleaser at the end. Bolt has rejuvenated his home country as well as the rest of the world as he has truly captured and embraced what it means to be both an Olympian and a champion.
Honorable Mention, No. 29 Felix Baumgartner: Though he may not play a sport, Baumgartner is revolutionizing what it means to push the human body to its limits. The dare devil has planned a high-altitude jump from 120,000 feet which would set a new record. The jump was scheduled for early October, but unexpected wind conditions have left it postponed.
To view the full list of the 49 most influential men of 2012 — including a very surprising man at the No. 1 slot — click here.