Derek Jeter was voted the "Most Popular Male Athlete" according to a just-released Harris Poll. The New York Yankees shortstop is perched at the top spot for the first time, replacing Kobe Bryant who held the title last year.
Jeter's rise from the No. 3 spot in 2010 to the No. 1 position wasn't influenced too much by his highly-publicized quest for his milestone 3,000th hit because the poll of 2,163 participants were contacted during the week of June 13-20, when Jeter was on the disabled list.
Even the NFL lockout couldn't dim the ubiquitous football star's popularity. He was the most popular athlete polled by Gen-X (ages 35-46).
Michael Jordan, whose final NBA game was eight years ago, still tied for third place with Los Angeles Laker Bryant. Jordan was the most popular athlete from 1993-2005, when the title was handed over to golfer Tiger Woods.
Surprisingly, Woods was the most popular this year with the "matures" (ages 66+) according to the Harris Group. He was number one from 2006-2009. Still, the shamed and slumping golfer had the biggest drop in the top-ten.
"As his playing woes continue, it is likely that his (Woods) fall will continue next year", said a Harris representative.
Even so, Woods marketing team has to be happy.
Bryant was the most popular among Hispanic and African-Americans in the Harris Poll.
Jeter was big among the Baby Boomers (ages 47-65) even though the The Captain has been in the news a lot lately-- and not for all the most popular reasons.
Jeter's quest for the 3,000 Hit Club was accomplished in grand style last week after he went 5-for-5 and bashed the historic hit into the centerfield stands. The home run ball was caught by a fan, Christian Lopez, who was immediately whisked out of his seat by Yankees personnel, who--many believe-- overwhelmed the young man into turning the ball over to Jeter for a mere pittance. Now Lopez is stuck with a whopping income tax bill to cover the season tickets he got as a reward. Now, even Yankees fans say that Jeter should foot the IRS bill in exchange for the ball.
After that controversy, Jeter skipped out on the All-Star Game he was elected to; citing his recovery from a strained calf and preparing for the wear-and-tear of the second half of the season as his reasons. Many fans didn't think he deserved to be in the Mid-summer Classic in the first place. He spent the break in Miami with his girlfriend actress Minka Kelly.
Besides Woods, another bad boy made the list. Hines Ward tied with Albert Pujols at the seventh position. The Pittsburgh Steeler was arrested a couple of weeks ago--after the poll was taken-- for suspicion of DUI. Ward's "Dancing With the Stars" victory probably pulled in a lot of the ladies' votes, but apparently not as many as Manning. The QB was the most popular athlete among the women polled.
First timers to the Top Ten included Ward, Pujols, Derrick Rose and Aaron Rodgers.
The top three female athletes were at No. 1, tennis-star Serena Williams followed by her sister Venus and race car driver Danica Patrick.