Reader’s Digest Trust Poll: The 100 Most Trusted People in America

Reader's Digest teamed up with research firm The Wagner Group to poll over 1,000 Americans and discover which individuals and the ideals they represent have earned our confidence. Here, the surprising winners, paired with one of their inspiring quotes.

By Courtenay Smith and Alison Caporimo
Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP Images

1. Tom Hanks, actor

"But look, I was born in 1956, the peak year for births in US history. I think I'm very representative of many of the thought processes my generation have been through and, by and large, people of my age have had their imprint planted on the consciousness of western society for a long time."

Quotes Sources: Reader's Digest,,,,,,,,,,,, The Guardian, "A Hand to Guide Me" by Denzel Washington,, New York Times, Federal News Service, The Telegraph, "Business @ The Speed of Thought" by Bill Gates, The Times Colonist, Africa News, Hollywood Reporter,,, University of Pennsylvania Wharton School commencement speech, Los Angeles Times, Michigan Daily, Buffalo News, Atlanta Journal Constitution, Canwest News Service, Pacific Free Press, University of Maryland press office, "Quiet Strength" by Tony Dungy, Chicago Daily Herald, AP, Harper's Bazaar, Judge Judy, "Medical Myths That Can Kill You" by Nancy Snyderman, Redbook, "It Worked For Me" by Colin Powell,,,, "Best Advice I Ever Got" by Katie Couric, Stanford Daily, Judge Joe Brown, "Through His Eyes" by Tim Tebow, "America's Supreme Court: Making Democracy Work" by Steven Breyer, Rolling Stone, "Tell Me the Truth, Doctor" by Richard Besser, speech at American Bar Association, Sunday Business Post,,,, "My Beloved World" by Sonia Sotoyor, @TheRock on Twitter, Parade, Vanity Fair, CNN/Time, Agence France Press, "Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom" by Christiane Northrup, NPR,,, Washington Post, Obama's 2008 address to the DNC in Denver, speech at Chapman Law School, "Unto the Hills" by Billy Graham, "Condi: The Life of a Steel Magnolia" by Condoleeza Rice, Newhouse News Service, Warren Buffet's 2011 Annual Letter,, speech at Golden Rasberry Awards, Justice Kagan's congressional confirmation hearing, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Faust speech at Royal Irish Academy in Dublin. 

John Shearer/WireImage

2. Sandra Bullock, actor

"I've made mistakes, and I know why I made them, but I made that choice. Nobody's ever made a choice for me."

Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images

3. Denzel Washington, actor

"At the end of the day, it's not about what you have or even what you've accomplished. It's about what you've done with those accomplishments. Its about who you've lifted up, who you've made better. It's about what you've given back."

Jude Domski/WireImage

4. Meryl Streep, actor

"I have always regarded myself as the pillar of my life."

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5. Maya Angelou, American studies professor

"A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song."

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6. Steven Spielberg, director

"I dream for a living."

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7. Bill Gates, Microsoft cofounder

"Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning."

Kevin Winter/Getty Images for ATI

8. Alex Trebek, host, Jeopardy!

"I’m curious about everything—even things that don’t interest me."

Mathew Imaging/WireImage

9. Melinda Gates, co-chair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

"Our desire to bring every good thing to our children is a force for good throughout the world. It’s what propels socieites forward."

Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

10. Julia Roberts, actor

"You can be true to the character all you want but you've got to go home with yourself."

Sara D. Davis/Getty Images

11. Robert J. Lefkowitz, MD, Nobel Prize–winning chemist

"I have a great deal of enthusiasm for whatever I am doing that seems to be infectious... I once looked up the derivation of the word enthusiasm—it comes from the Greek and apparently a literal derivation means "a god within"—and yes, enthusiasm is just something bubbling up from inside you and its a wonderful thing to bring to your work because if you bring that kind of enthusiasm to your work it feels like play."

Ida Mae Astute/ABC via Getty Images

12. Robin Roberts, host, Good Morning America

"All [my parents] wanted was for us to be trustworthy citizens. And there's a responsibility that goes with that, and it's not something I take lightly."


13. Clint Eastwood, director

"If a person doesn't change, there's something really wrong with him."

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14. Brian K. Kobilka, MD, Nobel Prize–winning chemist

"If you're really interested in something enough, you just keep working on it..."

UC Irvine via Getty Images

15. Lloyd Shapley, Nobel Prize–winning economist

"No! No!, that can be done much more simply!"

Taylor Hill/FilmMagic

16. Mehmet Oz, MD, host, The Dr. Oz Show

"Let people surprise you."

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17. Sanjay Gupta, MD, host, Sanjay Gupta, MD

"Eating, not smoking, has become the leading cause of preventable death."

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18. Ellen DeGeneres host, The Ellen DeGeneres Show

"People always ask me, 'Were you funny as a child?' Well, no, I was an accountant."

Chuck Kennedy/The White House via Getty Images

19. Michelle Obama, First Lady

"You may not always have a comfortable life and you will not always be able to solve all of the world's problems at once but don't ever underestimate the importance you can have because history has shown us that courage can be contagious and hope can take on a life of its own."

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20. Noam Chomsky, linguistics professor, MIT

"We shouldn't be looking for heroes, we should be looking for good ideas."

Paul Drinkwater/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

21. Tony Dungy football coach, retired

"Things will go wrong at times. You can't always control circumstances. However, you can always control your attitude, approach, and response. Your options are to complain or to look ahead and figure out how to make the situation better."

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22. Regina Benjamin, MD, U.S. surgeon general

"We can't look at health in isolation. It's not just in the doctor's office. It's got to be where we live, we work, we play, we pray. If you have a healthy community, you have a healthy individual."

Michael Kovac/WireImage

23. Madeleine K. Albright, diplomacy professor, Georgetown

"There really is a special place in hell for women who don't help each other."


24. Jimmy Carter, former U.S. President

"America did not invent human rights. In a very real sense… human rights invented America."

Rob Kim/WireImage

25. Diane Sawyer, anchor, ABC World News

"When you come back from overseas, and you see the immensity of the suffering, and you realize that you're just one story, and that no matter how you try to fire it like a rocket into the world, it is not going to change what they'll wake up to tomorrow. It can take days before you rally emotionally."

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26. Travis Stork, MD cohost, The Doctors

"The health impact of obesity is one of our generation's greatest challenges and one that we simply cannot ignore," says Travis Stork, an emergency room physician and co-host of The Doctors. "Our goal here is to teach people to fundamentally reconsider their relationship with food and to begin eating as though their life depended on it."

Jason Merritt/Getty Images For DirecTV

27. Peyton Manning, quarterback, Denver Broncos

"What drives me on that is a quote my dad showed me in high school by Chuck Noll, who said, 'Pressure is something you feel only when you don't know what the hell you're doing.'"

Mirek Towski/FilmMagic

28. Judith Sheindlin, host, Judge Judy

"I love the truth. If you don't tell me the truth, you're gonna be eating your shoes."

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29. Brian Williams, host, NBC Nightly News

"Believe in love at first sight... it's as real as anything else in this life."

Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire

30. Nancy Snyderman, MD, correspondent, Today

"I don’t know about you, but I like it here. Sure, life can get complicated, hard to get through, and it’s not always fun, but I don’t want to be shown the door anytime soon. If there are ways I can enhance my health and longevity with healthy habits, if there are appropriate screening measures for my age group, if there are new lifesaving treatments I can access, then I want to know about them so that I can stay around and be kicking up my heels when I’m ninety."

Michael Stewart/FilmMagic

31. Rachael Ray, host, Rachael Ray Show

"It's continuously humbling to work hard, you know? As long as you've got a good work ethic and a sense of humor, I don't think anybody can become too much of an egoist under those circumstances."

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32. Colin Powell, former secretary of state

"Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier."

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33. Nancy Brinker, founder, Susan G. Komen for the Cure breast cancer org

"Suzy was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1977 and died in 1980. By her side through three brutal years of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, I promised my sister I’d do everything I could to stop the heartless progression and social stigma of this disease, even if it took the rest of my life. And it has."

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34. Barbara Walters, cohost, The View

"I don't know about you, but I can never get enough David Letterman."

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35. Johnny Depp, actor

"If you love two people at the same time, choose the second. Because if you really loved the first one, you wouldn't have fallen for the second."


36. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Supreme Court justice

"Women will only have true equality when men share with them the responsibility of bringing up the next generation."

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37. Katie Couric, host, Katie

"A boat is always safe in the harbor, but that's not what boats are built for."

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38. Alvin E. Roth, Nobel Prize–winning economist

"I went into operations research with the idea of fixing things up so they work better."

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39. Joe Brown, host, Judge Joe Brown

"Been there, seen that, done that, heard that a lot."

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40. Tim Tebow, NFL quarterback

"Following the crowd is not a winning approach to life. In the end it’s a loser’s game, because we never become who God created us to be by trying to be like everybody else."

Allen Berezovsky/FilmMagic

41. Muhammad Ali, world champion boxer

"Champions aren't made in gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them—a desire, a dream, a vision. They have to have the skill, and the will. But the will must be stronger than the skill."

Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

42. George Lucas, director

"No! Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try." -Yoda, from Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back, created and produced by George Lucas

Henry S. Dziekan III/Getty Images

43. Stephen Breyer, Supreme Court justice

"Specifically, [the Court] can and should interpret the Constitution in a way that works for the people of America today."


44. John G. Roberts, Jr., Supreme Court justice

"I do think the chief justice has a particular obligation to try to achieve consensus consistent with everyone's individual oath to uphold the Constitution, and that's would certainly be a priority for me."

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45. Ben Affleck, director

"I find forgiveness to be really healthy."

Michael Stewart/WireImage

46. Whoopi Goldberg, cohost, The View

"We're here for a reason. I believe a bit of the reason is to throw little torches out to lead people through the dark."

Ida Mae Astute/ABC via Getty Images

47. Richard Besser, MD, correspondent, Good Morning America

"I think many of us long for the days when we had a relationship with a doctor who really knew us, whom we could trust."

Jeffrey Ufberg/WireImage

48. Rabbi Arthur Schneier, recipient, Presidential Citizens Medal

"When you experience the human tragedy of World War II that claimed the lives of millions and millions of people, including my own family at Auschwitz and Terezin in the Shoah, it really shapes the way you look at the world. ... But if you survive, you say to yourself: O.K., I survived for a purpose. You have to pay back."

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49. Anthony M. Kennedy, Supreme Court justice

"The case for freedom, the case for our constitutional principles the case for our heritage has to be made anew in each generation. The work of freedom is never done."

Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images

50. Anderson Cooper, host, CNN

"Be honest about what you see, get out of the way and let the story reveal itself."

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51. Hillary Clinton, former secretary of state

"Every moment wasted looking back, keeps us from moving forward."

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52. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., director, Harvard’s W.E.B. DuBois Institute

"The first step toward tolerance is respect and the first step toward respect is knowledge."

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53. Sonia Sotomayor, Supreme Court justice

"Experience has taught me that you cannot value dreams according to the odds of their coming true. Their real value is in stirring within us the will to aspire. That will, wherever it finally leads, does at least move you forward."

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54. Dwayne Johnson, actor

"There is 100% no substitute for hard work. Straight up."

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55. Phil Mickelson, professional golfer

"My family has reduced the effect of my career on my self-esteem. When I'm with them, they make me feel special regardless of how I play."

Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images

56. Christiane Amanpour, journalist, CNN

"You give all sides a fair hearing, and you also make it absolutely clear what the facts are and what the truth is... At least for me, journalism isn't about 'on the one hand... on the other.' In the end it's about accountability—holding power accountable."

Jamie McCarthy/WireImage

57. George Stephanopoulos, cohost, Good Morning America

"People have felt more removed from the political system and I think that that is unfortunate, because I don't believe it's true. The fact is that every Decision does have an impact."

Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

58. Eli Manning, quarterback, New York Giants

"My favorite football memory isn't beating Florida or winning the bowl game... My favorite memories are of playing football with my brothers and my dad in the front yard when I was younger."

Lou Rocco/ABC via Getty Images

59. Oprah Winfrey, founder, OWN Network

"I've come to believe that each of us has a personal calling that's as unique as a fingerprint - and that the best way to succeed is to discover what you love and then find a way to offer it to others in the form of service, working hard, and also allowing the energy of the universe to lead you."

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60. Samuel A. Alito, Jr., Supreme Court justice

"A judge can't have any preferred outcome in any particular case and a judge doesn't have a client. The judge's only obligation, and it's a solemn obligation, is to the rule of law. And what that means, in every single case, the judge has to do what the law requires."

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61. Drew Gilpin Faust, president, Harvard University

"Look to the past to help create the future. Look to science and to poetry. Combine innovation and interpretation. We need the best of both. And it is universities that best provide them."

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

62. Elena Kagan, Supreme Court justice

"You shouldn't want a judge who will sit at this table and who will tell you that she will reverse a decision without listening to arguments and without reading briefs and without talking to colleagues."

Mike Coppola/Getty Images

63. Scott Pelley, anchor, CBS Evening News

"I don't think that young journalists realize how similar their job is to the job of a scientist. It's a very similar sort of thing: you get down to the original information and you test it, and you test it again, and you peer review it, and you test it again—it's very much like science. Science doesn't care, by and large, what the answers are. It's only interested in getting the right answer. And journalism should be very much that way."

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64. Adam Sandler, comedian

"I do love the films I've done in the past. I work hard in my movies and my friends work hard and we're trying to make people laugh and I'm very proud of that."

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65. Barack Obama, President of the United States

"A change is brought about because ordinary people do extraordinary things."

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66. Antonin Scalia, Supreme Court justice

"If you're going to be a good and faithful judge, you have to resign yourself to the fact that you're not always going to like the conclusions you reach. If you like them all the time, you're probably doing something wrong."

Jemal Countess/WireImage

67. Billy Graham, evangelical minister

"I'm an optimist. I've read the last page of the Bible."

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68. Condoleezza Rice, former secretary of state

"Prejudice and bigotry are brought down... by the sheer force of determination of individuals to succeed and the refusal of a human being to let prejudice define the parameters of the possible."

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69. Pat Sajak, host, Wheel of Fortune

"Sometimes you just stumble into something that works, and here I am a quarter of a century later."

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70. Christiane Northrup, MD, author, The Wisdom of Menopause

"We are born with this inner guidance, which comes in the form of the emotions and desires that lead us toward things (including thoughts) that feel good and are good for us, and away from things that feel bad and are bad for us."

Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire

71. Warren Buffett, CEO, Berkshire Hathaway

"We are not natively smarter than we were when our country was founded nor do we work harder. But look around you and see a world beyond the dreams of any colonial citizen. Now, as in 1776, 1861, 1932, and 1941, America's best days lie ahead."

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72. Steve Harvey, host, Steve Harvey Show

"My dad, who was a construction worker and a coal miner in West Virginia, used to say, 'Son, talk and listen to everybody. Even listen to a fool, because fools are good people to know. If you don't learn anything else, you'll learn what not to do from a fool. That's as good as knowing what to do. So let a fool talk.'"

Marcel Thomas/FilmMagic

73. Kelly Ripa, cohost, Live with Kelly & Michael

"I'd rather not have a moment when I'm known for my looks; being funny and interesting lasts longer."

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74. Halle Berry, actor

"When I was a kid, my mother told me that if you could not be a good loser, then there's no way you could be a good winner."

Michael Loccisano/FilmMagic

75. Andrew Weil, MD, author, Spontaneous Healing

"A less formal practice—and one that I follow—is to devote a few moments of my morning meditation session to feel and silently give thanks for all of the good things in my life."

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76. Francis Ford Coppola, director

"I think cinema, movies, and magic have always been closely associated. The very earliest people who made movies were magicians."

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77. Ben Stiller, actor

"I'm always willing to endure humiliation on behalf of my characters."

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78. Jeff Bezos, CEO, Amazon

"A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well."

Ferdaus Shamim/WireImage

79. Tim Burton, director

"I've always been more comfortable making my decisions from the subconscious level, or more emotionally, because I find it more truthful to me ... I'm more wary of my intellectual mind, of becoming delusional if I think of it too much."

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80. Leonardo DiCaprio, actor

"If you can do what you do best and be happy, you're further along in life than most people."

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81. Ron Clark, founder, The Ron Clark Academy

"Learning from our mistakes and holding on to our memories helps us become deeper individuals with a better sense of who we are and how we choose to live our lives."

Getty Images for Avon Foundation

82. Susan Love, MD, author, Dr. Susan Love’s Breast Book

"We can be the generation that stops breast cancer, but it will take all of us, an Army of women!"

Charles Eshelman/FilmMagic

83. Michael Pollan, journalism professor, UC Berkeley

"Don't eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn't recognize as food."

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84. Cameron Diaz, actor

"Your regrets aren't what you did, but what you didn't do. So I take every opportunity."

Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire

85. Savannah Guthrie, cohost, TODAY

"I would never put my job before my family."

Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation

86. Alex Gorsky, CEO, Johnson & Johnson

"There's a general attitude in the military of trying to do everything possible to accomplish the mission. We have the same kind of commitment to improving patients' lives."

Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire

87. Matt Lauer, cohost, TODAY

"I'm not a guy who complains. I love this job, I really do."

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

88. Clarence Thomas, Supreme Court justice

"Good manners will open doors that the best education cannot."

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89. Tina Fey, comedian

"Don't waste your energy trying to educate or change opinions; go over, under, through, and opinions will change organically when you're the boss. Or they won't. Who cares? Do your thing, and don't care if they like it."

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90. David Drew Pinsky, MD, host, Dr. Drew on Call

"Live with integrity and a clear sense of right and wrong. Consider consequences. Listen to the inner voice of your instinct as carefully as a doctor checks your heartbeat."

Jennifer Graylock/FilmMagic

91. Michael Strahan, cohost, Live with Kelly & Michael

"This is who I am. I'm not perfect. I don't want to try to be perfect."

Photo © David Corio

92. Deepak Chopra, MD, alternative medicine practitioner

"Always go with your passions. Never ask yourself it it's realistic or not."

Jin Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images

93. Ken Powell, CEO, General Mills

"The question becomes 'what really needs to be changed?' when you've been embedded in it so long."

Scott Eells/Bloomberg via Getty Images

94. Steve Ballmer, CEO, Microsoft

"The number one benefit of information technology is that it empowers people to do what they want to do. It lets people be creative. It lets people be productive. It lets people learn things they didn't think they could learn before, and so in a sense, it is all about potential."

Sandy Carson/Corbis

95. Walter Mossberg, tech columnist, Wall Street Journal

"Personal computers are just too hard to use, and it isn't your fault."

Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire

96. Phil McGraw, host, Dr. Phil

"You cannot be who and what you are unless you have a lifestyle, both internally and externally, that is designed to support that definition of self."

Steve Mack/Getty Images for NYC Media Group

97. Steve Forbes, CEO, Forbes Media

"The essence of the American dream is the understanding that we are here on this earth and in this land for a higher purpose: to discover and develop to the fullest our God-given potential. Anything that stands in the way of the dream, we must fight. Anything that enhances the dream, we must support."

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98. Maureen Dowd, columnist, New York Times

"The minute you settle for less than you deserve, you get even less than you settled for."

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99. Paul Krugman, columnist, New York Times

"The goal in the end is not to win elections. The goal is to change society."

Duffy-Marie Arnoult/WireImage

100. Shepard Smith, anchor, The Fox Report

"I'm a journalist, I run to the fire, that's what we do."

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