Score one for all the nerds.
Well, all the nerds who are also musical geniuses with a smooth baritone, a muscular build and a supermodel wife who is as witty as she is gorgeous. Man, those guys almost never catch a break.
Forget that he's long since grown into his Urkel-esque persona. The 2019 woman wants her a guy that is woke enough to ban R. Kelly tunes from his home and champion a female president. She needs someone that can serve as her biggest cheerleader and an unending well of support for their children. And if he wants to pen her a song in which he praises "your curves and all your edges, all your perfect imperfections" that's just the ribbon on the whole sexiest man package.
So allow us to join Chrissy Teigen in dismissing anyone who dare suggest Legend is anything if not an inspired choice for this annual honor (who actually needs a guy to throw her over his shoulder?) and count the reasons we stan.
For starters, he's attractive.
That's pretty much a non-negotiable when it comes to being named Sexiest Man Alive. And while sexy is a broad term that means different things to different people and good looks are entirely subjective, we're going to go ahead and say few people would kick the ultra-fit, entirely adorable 40-year-old and his five o'clock shadow out of bed.
And he's pretty freakin' smart.
Before he was a 16-year-old matriculating at an Ivy League school, the son of Phyllis and Ron Stephens was a bit of a child prodigy. As a baby, his first word—"Hallelujah"—eclipsed the more standard fare and by age four, he was already taking piano lessons. "Typically, you tell your son or daughter, 'Have you practiced your lessons?'" his dad told Vanity Fair. "John was the kind of kid, like, 'Hey man, get off that piano, you're driving us crazy!'"
Skipping two grades, he turned down offers to Harvard and Georgetown to enroll at the University of Pennsylvania, graduating magna cum laude with an English degree. But he never gave up on his singer-songwriter ambitions. He'd work on his music at night after finishing his day job crunching numbers at Boston Consulting Group, finally getting his big break thanks to his college roommate, who agreed to introduce him to his cousin, a person that just happened to be Kanye West. The payoff? His debut, 2004's Get Lifted, scored him his first three Grammys.
Hi, he has an EGOT.
Generally winning an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony isn't a thing we require in a man, but all that hardware (he snagged the Emmy last year for his work a producer on Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert; the Oscar for writing "Glory" for 2014's Selma; the Tony in 2017 as producer on the play Jitney and has amassed a small army of 10 Grammys) is fairly impressive. Even more so when you consider that he's the second youngest of the 15 people to have earned that particular honor and the first black man.
But he doesn't take himself too seriously.
During a tour of the couple's Beverly Hills home, Vanity Fair writer Karen Valby noted that while Legend's trophies claim much of the real estate on their display shelf, the Glamour Women of the Year award Teigen earned last year is in a place of prominence as is a plastic trophy Teigen's mom Pepper claimed for besting the Hot Cheetos and Takis Fuego Challenge.
"My father taught me about character. He taught us by example," he told People of the lessons he's gleaned from the factory worker and dad of four. "He always conducted himself with such grace and dignity. My parents always taught me that if you're going to succeed in life, part of success if having humility. It's a good way to live life, treating other people the way you want to be treated."
He's got great taste in women.
Most of People's honorees are off the table for us normals in terms of attainability. And so if we have to accept that we'll likely never find ourselves sharing a candlelit dinner for two with Legend, we're glad it's Teigen that is, as she put it, boning this year's Sexiest Man Alive. Completely unguarded and self-deprecating, she's a must follow on Twitter as much for her biting observations as her drool-worthy recipes.
And though Legend has been a certified celebrity nearly a decade longer, he's accepted that his better half is more adored. At an Obama Foundation event this year, he told Vanity Fair, he and former President Barack Obama "joked about how much our wives are loved more than we are now."
Which, frankly, he's fine with.
This is a man who unabashedly loves his wife, endlessly, er, singing her praises. That might mean using an anniversary post to shill her latest projects. "What can I say on a day like today? I could talk about the 12 beautiful years I've known you. I could talk about the 5 years of wedded bliss, the 2 wonderful children we've brought into this world. But I feel the urge to say something far more important," he wrote on their anniversary last year. "I LOVE your new kitchenware line at @Target. I can't wait for it to come out on September 30th. I'm so proud of everything you've done in your career and how much joy you bring to people's lives. Did I mention that your Cravings Cookbook is coming out Tuesday? Because it's coming out Tuesday. I love you, baby."
He was also quick to praise her bravery, sharing just how blown away by her choice to share her struggle with postpartum depression in a 2017 Glamour op-ed.
"She showed me the drafts when she was writing it and I knew it would mean a lot to a lot of women for them to see that," he told E! News at the time. "By acknowledging the pain that she's going through, in doing that she also acknowledges the pain that a lot of women go through after they have a child. A lot of people don't want to talk about it. A lot of people feel alone when they're going through it and for her to let people know that they're not alone, I think was really powerful."
No matter what she decides to tackle next, he'll be hollering from the sideline. "I'm her biggest cheerleader," he told Vanity Fair. "I always think she should do more." And if some days she'd rather dig into a Real Housewives marathon or recreate TLC's Four Weddings on a random weekday, well, he's down for that too.
Because at the end of the day, he knows he got a pretty good draw. "She's the one. It's clear!" he raved to People of his wife of six years. "We have great chemistry. She makes me laugh all the time. She's a wonderful mother. She's my best friend."
He doesn't require constant praise.
There's a reason you can find endless listicles of times Teigen has trolled Legend. It's part of her "schtick to make fun of him always," as she's explained on social media, perhaps a defense mechanism to avoid being seen as that couple whose perfection is frankly kind of grating. And it's something that Legend fully embraces.
"People see our banter a lot, and we have a lot of fun together. I like the fact that she makes me laugh all the time," he explained to People. "The thing that makes me say 'Aw" is when she unironically compliments me because she doesn't do it a lot. I wouldn't love it if she did it all the time!"
Because when she is particularly laudatory, say the time she publicly praised him for flying back to L.A. to see her when she hadn't "been feeling like myself lately", he knows that she truly means it.
And for all of her jokes about the sexiest man alive making her a ham sandwich, Legend told People, "She's proud of me. You know, she makes fun of me almost all the time, but she hasn't even been snarky about this," which, whoops, this may have been before she instructed her husband via twitter to come home so they could "make fun of you in person." Either way, he continued, "She's like legit proud of me. I finally impressed my wife!"
He never stops trying to win over his kids.
Already a handy guy to have around the house, thanks to his penchant for ironing and the cooking skills he mastered at a young age (though we're guessing Teigen has that role cornered), he dove straight into his job as Dad when he and Teigen welcomed daughter Luna Simone Stephens in 2016 and her little brother Miles Theodore Stephens last year.
The family's Vanity Fair profile makes note of the singer-songwriter gamely slipping into the crab-patterned trunks Luna selected to take a dip in the pool, which is just one snippet of the overall John-as-a-good-dad footage. Need him to burp baby Miles while serving as Luna's jungle gym? Done. The family band needs a drummer? Seems like a task he can handle. And if this Instagram footage is to be believed, he's already imparting his musical wisdom onto Miles.
He's an avowed feminist.
And, to be clear, the singer, who mentored high school students near his Ohio hometown, showing them a different example of masculinity in an effort to do away with the toxic variety, was supportive of female rights long before he and Teigen welcomed their spirited little girl.
"I'm always suspicious of people who become feminists only when they have a daughter," he told Racked in 2017, explaining his involvement with the Axe initiative. "I don't like that you have to have a gay son to be for gay marriage. I feel like you should have enough empathy for other people that you don't need someone to be in your family to think they're valuable. I thought of myself as a feminist before I had a daughter and before I was married. Having a daughter might reinforce that, but it shouldn't be the only reason I care about women's rights."
So he's here to "speak out against sexual assault," he said and seek out the root causes that make men "feel the need to be dominant in that way." And he's ready to stump for some female candidates, thank you very much.
Asked his favorite presidential hopeful in the 2020 election, he told Vanity Fair that Elizabeth Warren stands out: "She's the best candidate running today and she comes at it with joy and with sincerity and with a wealth of knowledge and experience."
And while he gets that some guys are hesitant to elect a female president, he doesn't get why. "Honestly, I don't comprehend why guys hate women so much sometimes," he said. "You see someone as transparently competent and eloquent and on fire as Elizabeth Warren and then you hear some guys just are not into voting for a woman. Why do guys feel so threatened by the idea of a woman president?"
Say it louder for the people in the back.
He's woke AF.
His presidential choices are just a sliver of his progressiveness. The only well-known musician to speak out against R. Kelly in favor of the women who allegedly suffered sexual, mental and physical abuse at the singer's hand, Legend called his decision to appear in Dream Hampton's Surviving R. Kelly documentary easy. "To everyone telling me how courageous I am for appearing in the doc, it didn't feel risky at all," he tweeted. "I believe these women and don't give a f--k about protecting a serial child rapist."
In his eyes, no issue is too small (he rerecorded a version of problematic classic "Baby, It's Cold Outside" for the deluxe edition of his A Legendary Christmas album that removed some of the more cringe-inducing lyrics) or large to tackle.
Consider his most passionate project: criminal justice reform. Long having worked to end mass incarceration, he calls the proudest moment of his career, having the chance to perform "Glory" alongside co-collaborator Common at the 2015 Academy Awards and then deliver a speech in which he declared, "There are more black men under correctional control today than there were under slavery in 1850."
He's a fantastic teammate.
Love songs are nice and all, but it's Legend's take on what makes the best spouse that is most romantic of all. "Being a good husband is about communicating and listening to what your partner needs and wants," he told People. "A lot of it is being trustworthy, being dependable, being someone they can rely on. They want security and to know someone has their back. Hopefully I do that for Chrissy."
Now that, that is truly sexy.