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Looking back on People’s Sexiest Man Alive

Patrick Dempsey poses for photographers at the premiere of the film “Ferrari.” On Nov. 7, People magazine named Dempsey 2023’s Sexiest Man Alive. (Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP, File)

Patrick Dempsey is the 35th man crowned People’s Sexiest Man Alive for its November 2023 feature.

The former “Grey’s Anatomy” star was announced as Sexiest Man live on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” on Nov. 7, replacing last year’s title-holder Chris Evans.

“It’s nice to have the recognition, and certainly my ego takes a little bump, but it gives me a platform to use it for something positive,” Dempsey told People about the accolade. 

While Dempsey has been a heartthrob for almost two decades as “McDreamy,” internet users took to TikTok and X, formerly known as Twitter, to express their confusion and displeasure with the magazine’s choice. This begs the question, how does People choose the Sexiest Man Alive?


Before the official announcement of Sexiest Man Alive, People hosted a poll for readers to vote on their favorite male celebrities in certain categories, like sexiest TV star and sexiest grandpa, which were two categories featured this year.

That being said, the handsome man chosen for each year’s cover is decided by the magazine, not the readers.

The magazine spends months holding discussions when deciding the next man for the cover feature. They also consult focus groups to determine what people are looking for in the next Sexiest Man.

In 2019 when John Legend was chosen as Sexiest Man Alive, People’s Editor-in-Chief at the time Dan Wakeford gave CNN insight on the selection process.

“There are so many different variables and ways of approaching it,” Wakeford told CNN. “A starting point often is, when we want to make a decision, is to think about the zeitgeist, think about what is sexy at the moment. What do people find appealing at the moment?”

Using this idea from Wakeford, People awarded Michael B. Jordan the title in 2020 for Jordan’s activism during the Black Lives Matter movement.


People’s yearly tradition started in 1985 when the magazine named Mel Gibson the first Sexiest Man Alive. 

John F. Kennedy Jr. is the youngest Sexiest Man Alive, being 27 years old when crowned in 198890. The oldest winner is Sean Connery, winning the title at the age of 59, only two years older than Dempsey’s current age.

There have been four men to win the title of Sexiest Man Alive twice. The first to achieve this was Richard Gere when he and then-wife Cindy Crawford were awarded Sexiest Couple Alive in 1993; with Gere receiving his second title in 1999.

In 2000, Brad Pitt was announced Sexiest Man Alive again after his first 1995 win. George Clooney became the third man to win again in 2006 after his first win in 1997, followed by Johnny Depp with his wins in 2003 and 2009. 

Unfortunately, the annual feature is not known for diversity, as there have only been four Black men ever featured on the cover for Sexiest Man Alive – Denzel Washington, Idris Elba, Legend and Jordan. The rest of the chosen men, with the exception of Keanu Reeves who is of Chinese Hawaiian descent, have been white. 

Whoever the next winner is, it’s bound to make people upset, so all we can do is hope that next year isn’t another controversial pick from People like Blake Shelton in 2017.

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