For the first time in its 25-year history, Men’s Health is putting a regular guy on its cover. November’s cover boy won’t be an actor, athlete or model, but he will be the winner of the magazine’s “Ultimate Men’s Health Guy” competition. A panel of all-star judges—including MH editor in chief Bill Phillips, designer Kenneth Cole, Fox Sports’ Erin Andrews, CNN’s Chris Cuomo and Today show’s Willie Geist—has deemed him the fittest, healthiest, most giving and most successful man among the 1,300 readers who submitted entries since the competition kicked off in April.
Narrowing the field to three finalists—the winner gets revealed on Today next month—was “ridiculously difficult,” said Phillips, who was helped by more than 400,000 online reader votes. “The stories we received were absolutely remarkable, from doctors who work in Third World countries to battle infectious diseases to CEOs of companies who raised millions of dollars for charity to a guy who is one of the world’s oldest surviving HIV-positive people,” added publisher Ronan Gardiner.
Advertisers like Kenneth Cole, whose Mankind fragrance is the competition’s official sponsor, have embraced the concept. November will be MH’s biggest issue of the year. But will the public buy a magazine featuring a total unknown on its cover? “We honestly have no idea,” said Phillips. “But I think it’s going to draw attention. And if it doesn’t sell as well as the others, so be it. That doesn’t mean we won’t do it again next year.”