Inside PEOPLE’s ‘Sexiest Man Alive’ selection

Mel Gibson was the magazine’s first “Sexiest Man Alive” in 1985. Others followed sporadically until 1997, when People made their selection an annual event. Past “Sexiest” men include George Clooney (twice!), Tom Cruise (1990), Adam Levine (2013), and Idris Elba (2018.)

Wakeford said the “Sexiest Man Alive” concept has evolved over the years, but the selection process involves more than just identifying a celebrity with a handsome face.

“This year, we really wanted to choose somebody who is kind, and who is good and is nice,” he said.

It’s a theme for Wakeford, who has launched both a Kindness issue and a Mental Health Awareness issue with the magazine.

People Editor-in-Chief Dan Wakeford (Photo by: Nathan Congleton/NBCU Photo Bank/)

“People is really trying to inspire people to make a difference in the world and do good through our content,” he explained.

The “Sexiest Man” is a person of character, Wakeford said, but they also consider “Who is hot, who is doing really well, and who actually is sexy.”

For 2019, they landed on John Legend.

When does the process begin?

“We think about it all the time,” Wakeford said. “We start thinking about who could be next year’s ‘Sexiest Man’ the day after the last one publishes.”

How is the person chosen?

“There are so many different variables and ways of approaching it,” Wakeford said. “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?”

Next is looking at what concepts will make sense visually.


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