Former President Ronald Reagan was named the “Greatest American” of all time in an interactive contest tonight, topping fellow Republican Abraham Lincoln.
Of more than 2.4 million votes in the survey sponsored by America Online, Reagan, who died last year after a long bout with Alzheimer’s disease, captured the title with 24 percent of ballots, just edging out Lincoln by 0.44 percent, according to host Matt Lauer.
“The memory is fresh,” said Reagan’s son, Ron Jr. “People remember the funeral. … I’m sure he would be very honored to be in the company of all these great gentlemen.”
The rest of the top five were civil-rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. (19.7 percent), George Washington (17.7 percent) and Benjamin Franklin (14.9 percent).
“Ronald Reagan was a man of courage,” said John Washington, ancestral nephew of George Washington. “These are all distinguished men, but Ronald Reagan, I think he deserves his place here at the top of this list.”
The second half of the top 10, already established from voting in previous weeks, had President George W. Bush at No. 6, followed by Bill Clinton, Elvis Presley, Oprah Winfrey and Franklin Roosevelt.
The event was broadcast by the Discovery Channel, as ordinary citizens were able to cast votes by phone or the Internet.
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