Gallup has announced that the iconic world evangelist Rev. Billy Graham has been named as one of the 10 most admired men in the world for a record 60th time – a legacy that began in the middle of the last century.
This year, the Christian leader ranked fifth on the list, despite not being in the public eye as much as the other competitors making it to the top 10.
Still going strong
The only four men beating out the 98-year-old preacher were former Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who claimed fourth place, Pope Francis coming in third, President-elect Donald Trump in the runner-up spot, and outgoing President Barack Obama taking first place as the world’s most admired man for 2016.
But the most remarkable story is how a revered pastor at nearly 100 years of age continues to win the hearts and admiration of Americans for six consecutive decades.
"This year marks the 60th time Graham has finished in the top 10 – a Gallup record,” Gallup announced. “That includes making it into the top 10 every year since 1955 – with the exception of the 1962 survey and in 1976, when the question was not asked."
Administered just before the close of 2016, the survey opened up entries to include anyone living on the face of the planet who is worthy of admiration.
"The results are based on a Dec. 7–11 poll,” the pollsters disclosed. “Since 1946, Gallup has asked Americans to name the man – living anywhere in the world – whom they admire most."
The five men who made the top 10 behind the founder of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) were Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in sixth place, The Dalai Lama in seventh, former U.S. president Bill Clinton coming in eighth, Microsoft Founder Bill Gates in ninth, and Vice President-elect Mike Pence edging into the last spot at number 10.
The leaders of the incoming administration will likely continue to make the list for years to come.
"Pence is the only newcomer among the top 10 men this year,” Gallup pointed out. “Trump has finished in the top 10 five prior times – in 1988, 1989, 1990, 2011 and 2015."
Two former presidents and America’s most popular billionaire in the software industry also made headlines.
"Clinton made the top 10 for a 25th time and Gates for a 17th. Former President George W. Bush finished outside the top 10 for the first time since he was elected in 2000," the report added.
A modern-day legend
No other evangelist in modern times has made such a mark on the world for Jesus Christ than Graham.
“Born in 1918 in Charlotte, North Carolina, and raised on a dairy farm, Graham spent much of the 20th Century as a traveling evangelist who preached the Gospel to an estimated 200 million people in over 180 countries,” The Christian Post informed. “It is believed that no other person has preached to as many people as Graham, having launched several open-air revival meetings known as ‘Billy Graham Crusades.’"
Furthermore, it is unlikely that anyone will ever come close to beating Graham’s record of 60 times on Gallup’s top 10 most admired men list.
"Graham's record is likely to endure for a long time,” the Charlotte Observer insisted in a piece about Graham’s record. “His closest competitor for number of times on the list is former President Ronald Reagan, who died in 2004. Reagan made the list 31 times."
Being runner up has been the highest that Graham has ever reached in his 60 top 10 placements, but the consistent adulation he receives is second to none.
"Graham, a pastor to presidents and globe-trotting evangelist, has never finished first on the Most Admired list – a spot that usually goes to U.S. presidents,” Gallup noted. “But he was runner-up from 1969 through 1974 and again in 1997 and 1999."