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LOS ANGELES (Reuters Life!) - Readers of AskMen.com, a website devoted to men and their lifestyles, looked back in time and at their own TVs to find 2009's most influential man, the character Don Draper of Emmy-winning drama "Mad Men."
The annual poll turned up some surprising choices outside the usual lineup of notable celebrities and star businessmen. Track star Usain Bolt was the No. 2 most influential man, President Barack Obama was third, and behind him was Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg.
Draper, played in the hit U.S. television series by actor Jon Hamm, is a creative executive at the advertising agency in the center of "Mad Men." He is a family man, but has had his share of affairs. He is not perfect, but he tries to do right.
More important, he exemplifies a "traditional man" that AskMen.com editor-in-chief James Bassil said readers have come to respect in 2009, amid the recession but not necessarily because of it.
"One of the big themes this year was that men really want to take on these traditional roles -- as fathers, working men, provider at home, leader at the office," Bassil said. "I think they are yearning for what is a solid past."
Bassil said this trend began a few years ago as modern men seemed to be struggling to find their place in the world. And he has seen it increase during the recession as people seek some comfort by harkening to familiar times and role models.
Many people on the list were not executives or celebrities who simply made the most money, Bassil noted. While they did perform at top levels in their careers, they also seemed to exude a strong sense of who they were as people and how they fit in with society. Some were independent firebrands who challenged accepted practices and prospered.
Apple Inc. chief executive and cancer survivor Steve Jobs, who in June returned to his post running the company he founded after a nearly six-month medical leave, was in the No. 7 spot, and Ultimate Fighting Championship president Dana White was No. 10.
Also among the top five, were "American Idol" judge Simon Cowell at No. 5, tennis champion Roger Federer at No. 8 and football star Peyton Manning in the No. 9 spot.
Pop star Michael Jackson, who died in June this year, made the list at No. 6. Bassil said readers seemed to focus not on the scandals in the 1990s and later that rocked Jackson's world, and instead focused on songs from the "Off the Wall" and "Thriller" albums that made him the King of Pop.
The full list can be found here
Editing by Patricia Reaney