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The Greatest American

The Greatest American was a four-part American television series hosted by Matt Lauer in 2005. The show featured biographies and lists of influential persons in U.S. history, and culminated in a contest in which millions in the audience nominated and voted for the person they felt was the "greatest American". The competition was conducted by AOL and the Discovery Channel and reported on by the BBC.

The Great Americans
Presented byMatt Lauer
Country of originUnited States
Executive producer(s)Jason Raff
Original networkDiscovery Channel
Original release5 June 2005 (2005-06-05)


Nominations were accepted through 31 January 2005. The seven-hour-long series was broken into four episodes: The first episode counted down the top 100 and introduced the top 25 nominees in alphabetical order. The second episode featured biographies of the top 25 nominees as well as commentaries from influential people such as celebrities and politicians. The third episode, called "The Great Debate", introduced the top five nominees and pitted the studio audience supporters of each of the nominees and a person selected to represent each of the top five candidates against a panel of three celebrities. In the finale the top five "Greatest Americans" were announced as well as what percentage of the votes each had received. Votes were taken through a toll free (if calling from a land line) phone number, through text messages from cell phones, and through online voting. Voters were allowed to vote three times per voting method, so anyone had a chance of voting at least nine times.

Top 25Edit

2. Abraham Lincoln,
16th President of the United States (1861–65).
3. Martin Luther King, Jr., civil rights activist.
4. George Washington,
1st President of the United States (1789–97).
5. Benjamin Franklin,
author, inventor, statesman, and scientist.
  1. Ronald Reagan, (1911–2004) actor and 40th President
  2. Abraham Lincoln, (1809–1865) 16th President
  3. Martin Luther King, Jr., (1929–1968) minister and civil rights leader
  4. George Washington, (1732–1799) general and 1st President
  5. Benjamin Franklin, (1705–1790) author, printer, scientist and politician
  6. George W. Bush, (1946–) 43rd President
  7. Bill Clinton, (1946–) 42nd President
  8. Elvis Presley, (1935–1977) musician and actor
  9. Oprah Winfrey, (1954–) talk show host and actress
  10. Franklin D. Roosevelt, (1882–1945) 32nd President
  11. Billy Graham, (1918–2018) minister
  12. Thomas Jefferson, (1743–1826) writer and 3rd President
  13. Walt Disney, (1901–1966) animator and film producer
  14. Albert Einstein, (1879–1955) physicist
  15. Thomas Alva Edison, (1874–1931) inventor
  16. John F. Kennedy, (1917–1963) 35th President
  17. Bob Hope, (1903–2003) actor and comedian
  18. Bill Gates, (1955–) businessman
  19. Eleanor Roosevelt, (1884–1962) First Lady, activist and diplomat
  20. Lance Armstrong, (1971–) cyclist
  21. Muhammad Ali, (1942–2016) boxer
  22. Rosa Parks, (1913–2005) civil rights activist
  23. The Wright Brothers, inventors and aviation pioneers
  24. Henry Ford, (1863–1947) industrialist and businessman
  25. Neil Armstrong, (1930–2012) astronaut

Alphabetical listEdit

On 18 April 2005, AOL and The Discovery Channel announced the top 100 nominees.

The remaining 75 nominees:

Other editionsEdit

Other countries have produced similar shows, see also: Greatest Britons spin-offs