The Most Successful Obese Americans

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The most successful obese Americans include men and women who despite being overweight, have found mainstream success. These actors, actresses, musicians, politicians, pundits, and even athletes are all household names who either became famous despite being obese or packed on the pounds after they rose to fame.

If Hollywood has an obsession with being stick thin, it definitely didn't tell some of the most well known large actors, actresses, and other personalities who have reached legendary status despite their size. Oprah Winfrey is just one of many celebrities who has battled weight in a very public forum but never let it stop her from becoming an entertainment mogul.

Who are some successful fat people? For some, being obese has caused the public to question if they were fit for their individual professions. Fans have criticized professional athletes like John Daly and Babe Ruth for their weight, despite leading other athletes at the same games. Pundits have trashed New Jersey Governor Chris Christie for his weight, with some even claiming he's too fat to hold public office.

Sadly, for a few of these favorite obese celebrities, their overindulgence contributed to their death. Though other factors were at play, the likes of John Candy, Chris Farley, and even the great Elvis Presley are just a few celebrities who enjoyed gluttony and eventually, in part, died because of it. This list of celebrity fat guys includes male and female, tall and short, young and old overweight movie stars. 

But for all of the sad stories of obesity, there's also many celebrities who have proudly overcome their weight issues. Television personalities Drew Carey and Al Roker both shed extra pounds and became inspirational tales that others can use for their own benefit.

Some stories are definitely more inspirational than others just like some of these famous obese people are more successful than others. Tell us which obese person you think is the most successful by voting for that person, re-ranking this list your way or adding someone we've missed below.


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  1. 1

    Christopher James "Chris" Christie is an American politician and member of the Republican Party who has served as the 55th Governor of New Jersey since January 2010. Born in Newark in 1962, Christie volunteered for the gubernatorial campaign of Republican Thomas Kean when he was 15. A 1984 graduate of ...more

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    • Age: age 53
    • Birthplace: Newark, New Jersey, United States of America
    • Profession: Politician, Lawyer
  2. 2
    Steve Ballmer
    Photo: Freebase/CC-BY

    Steven Anthony "Steve" Ballmer is an American businessman who was the chief executive officer of Microsoft from January 2000 to February 2014, and is the current owner of the Los Angeles Clippers. As of January 22, 2015, his personal wealth is estimated at US$20.6 billion, ranking number 23 on the ...more

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    • Age: age 59
    • Birthplace: Detroit, Michigan, United States of America
    • Profession: Businessperson
  3. 3
    Dick Cheney
    Photo: Freebase/Public domain

    Richard Bruce Cheney (born January 30, 1941) served as the 46th Vice President of the United States from 2001 to 2009 in the administration of George W. Bush. Cheney was born in Lincoln, Nebraska, but soon moved with his family to Casper, Wyoming, where he grew up. He began his political career as an ...more

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    • Age: age 74
    • Birthplace: Lincoln, Nebraska, United States of America
    • Profession: Businessperson, Politician, Author
    • Credits: Gasland, Special Report with Bret Baier, Rush to War
  4. 4
    Kevin James
    Photo: Freebase/CC-BY-SA

    Kevin George Knipfing, better known by his stage name, Kevin James, is an American comedian, actor, writer, and producer. Kevin James is widely known for playing Doug Heffernan on the hit CBS sitcom The King of Queens. He is also known for his lead roles in the comedy films I Now Pronounce You Chuck and ...more

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    • Age: age 50
    • Birthplace: USA, New York, Mineola
    • Profession: Comedian, Television producer, Film Producer, Screenwriter, Actor, + more
    • Credits: Grown Ups, 50 First Dates, Hotel Transylvania, Hitch, The King of Queens, + more
  5. 5

    Kathleen Doyle "Kathy" Bates is an American actress and film director. After appearing in several minor roles in film and television during the 1970s and the 1980s, Bates rose to prominence with her performance in Misery, for which she won the Academy Award for Best Actress; she also received a Golden ...more

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    • Age: age 67
    • Birthplace: Tennessee, USA, Memphis
    • Profession: Film Score Composer, Television director, Actor, Voice acting, Singer, + more
    • Credits: Titanic, American Horror Story, The Blind Side, Misery, The Waterboy, + more
  6. 6
    Aretha Franklin
    Photo: Freebase/Fair use

    Aretha Louise Franklin is an American singer and musician. Franklin began her career singing gospel at her father, minister C. L. Franklin's church as a child. In 1960, at the age of 18, Franklin embarked on a secular career, recording for Columbia Records only achieving modest success. Following her ...more

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    • Age: age 73
    • Birthplace: Memphis, Tennessee, United States of America
    • Profession: Songwriter, Musician, Singer-songwriter, Actor, Singer, + more
    • Credits: The Blues Brothers, Blues Brothers 2000, The Scrambled States of America
  7. 7

    John Stephen Goodman is an American actor who is known for his comedic and dramatic roles. Early in his career, he was best known for playing Dan Conner on the television series Roseanne, for which he won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in 1993. He is also a regular collaborator with the Coen ...more

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    • Age: age 63
    • Birthplace: USA, St. Louis, Missouri
    • Profession: Comedian, Television producer, Actor, Voice acting
    • Credits: The Big Lebowski, Monsters, Inc., Monsters University, Cars, + more
  8. 8

    Roseann "Rosie" O'Donnell is an American comedian, actress, author, and television personality. She has also been a magazine editor and continues to be a celebrity blogger, LGBT rights activist, television producer, and collaborative partner in the LGBT family vacation company R Family ...more

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    • Age: age 53
    • Birthplace: USA, New York, Commack
    • Profession: Editor, Talk show host, Comedian, Television producer, Film Producer, + more
    • Credits: Tarzan, A League of Their Own, Sleepless in Seattle, The Flintstones, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, + more
  9. 9

    Harold Glenn Hamm is an American entrepreneur primarily involved in the oil and gas business who is best known for pioneering the development of the large shale oil resources of the Bakken formation. On January 16, 2015 Hamm was ranked by Forbes magazine as the 48th richest person in United States and ...more

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    • Age: age 70
    • Birthplace: Lexington, Oklahoma, United States of America
  10. 10

    Newton Leroy "Newt" Gingrich is an American politician, historian, author and political consultant. He represented Georgia's 6th congressional district as a Republican from 1979 until his resignation in 1999, and served as the 58th Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 1999. Gingrich ...more

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    • Age: age 72
    • Birthplace: Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, United States of America
    • Profession: Businessperson, Politician, Educator, Historian, Film Producer, + more
    • Credits: Men in Black, Piers Morgan Live, Crossfire, The Party's Over, The Life of Larry, + more
  11. 11

    Charles Wade Barkley is a retired American professional basketball player and current analyst on the television program Inside the NBA. Nicknamed "Chuck", "Sir Charles", and "The Round Mound of Rebound", Barkley established himself as one of the National Basketball Association's most dominating power ...more

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    • Age: age 52
    • Birthplace: Leeds, Alabama, United States of America
    • Profession: Spokesperson, Basketball player, Announcer, Author, Actor, + more
    • Credits: Space Jam, Chappelle's Show, He Got Game, Look Who's Talking Now, On the Shoulders of Giants, + more
  12. 12

    Kirstie Louise Alley is an American actress and comedian known for her role in the TV series Cheers, in which she played Rebecca Howe from 1987 to 1993, winning an Emmy Award and a Golden Globe Award as the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series in 1991. She is also known for her role in the ...more

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    • Age: age 64
    • Birthplace: Wichita, Kansas, United States of America
    • Profession: Comedian, Television producer, Screenwriter, Actor
    • Credits: Cheers, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Look Who's Talking, Summer School, Drop Dead Gorgeous, + more
  13. 13

    Oprah Gail Winfrey is an American media proprietor, talk show host, actress, producer, and philanthropist. Winfrey is best known for her multi-award-winning talk show The Oprah Winfrey Show, which was the highest-rated program of its kind in history and was nationally syndicated from 1986 to 2011.more

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    • Age: age 61
    • Birthplace: Kosciusko, Mississippi, United States of America
    • Profession: Businessperson, Journalist, Television producer, Film Producer, Actor, + more
    • Credits: The Princess and the Frog, The Color Purple, Ocean's Thirteen, Bee Movie, The Butler, + more
  14. 14

    Albert Lincoln "Al" Roker, Jr. is an American television personality, weather forecaster, actor, and book author. He is best known as being the weather anchor on NBC's Today. On Monday, July 20, 2009, he began co-hosting his morning show, Wake Up with Al, on The Weather Channel, which airs weekdays live ...more

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    • Age: age 61
    • Birthplace: New York City, Area code 917, Contiguous United States, New York, United States of America, + more
    • Profession: TV Meteorologist, Journalist, Television producer, Author, Actor, + more
    • Credits: Men in Black, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Robots, Family Feud, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? (US), + more
  15. 15
    Roseanne Barr
    Photo: Freebase/CC-BY

    Roseanne Cherrie Barr is an American actress, comedian, writer, television producer, director, and 2012 presidential nominee of the California-based Peace and Freedom Party. Barr began her career in stand-up comedy at clubs before gaining fame for her role in the sitcom Roseanne. The show was a hit and ...more

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    • Age: age 63
    • Birthplace: USA, Salt Lake City, Utah
    • Profession: Television director, Businessperson, Television producer, Actor, Author, + more
    • Credits: Roseanne, Home on the Range, Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare, Look Who's Talking Too, She-Devil, + more
  16. 16
    Ruben Studdard
    Photo: Freebase/Public domain

    Christopher Ruben Studdard, best known as Ruben Studdard, is an American R&B, pop and gospel singer. He rose to fame as winner of the second season of American Idol and received a Grammy Award nomination in December 2003 for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance for "Superstar". In the years following Idol, ...more

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    • Age: age 37
    • Birthplace: Frankfurt, Germany
    • Profession: Actor, Singer
    • Credits: American Idol, Lifted, Pauly Shore's Natural Born Komics Sketch Comedy Movie: Miami, We Love Ella: A Tribute to the First Lady of Song, Stakes
  17. 17
    Akebono Tarō
    Photo: Freebase/Public domain

    Akebono Tarō is an American-born professional wrestler and former sumo wrestler from Waimānalo, Hawaii. Joining the professional sport in Japan in 1988, he was trained by pioneering Hawaiian sumo wrestler Takamiyama and rose swiftly up the rankings, reaching the top division in 1990. After two ...more

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    • Age: age 46
    • Birthplace: Waimanalo, Hawaii, USA
    • Profession: Wrestler, Sumo Wrestler, Actor
    • Credits: Ocean's Thirteen, Thermae Romae II
  18. 18

    Michael Francis Moore is an American documentary filmmaker, screenwriter, author, journalist, actor, and liberal political activist. He is the director and producer of Fahrenheit 9/11, a critical look at the presidency of George W. Bush and the War on Terror, which is the highest-grossing documentary of ...more

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    • Age: age 61
    • Birthplace: Flint, Michigan, United States of America
    • Profession: Film Producer, Screenwriter, Actor, Writer, Critic, + more
    • Credits: Bowling for Columbine, Sicko, Roger & Me, Fahrenheit 9/11, EDtv, + more
  19. 19

    Shaquille Rashaun O'Neal, nicknamed Shaq, is an American retired professional basketball player, former rapper, actor and current analyst on the television program Inside the NBA. Standing 7 ft 1 in tall and weighing 325 pounds, he was one of the heaviest players ever to play in the NBA. O'Neal played ...more

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    • Age: age 43
    • Birthplace: Newark, New Jersey, United States of America
    • Profession: Basketball player, Rapper, Television producer, Real estate entrepreneur, Film Producer, + more
    • Credits: Grown Ups 2, Jack and Jill, He Got Game, Scary Movie 4, Good Burger, + more
  20. 20

    Rush Limbaugh was born in January 12, 1951 in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. Married three times and currently divorced, Rush Limbaugh doesnt have children. Hes a radio and talk show host that has a nationally-syndicated talk show called The Rush Limbaugh Show, hes also written two bestsellers books: See, I ...more

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    • Age: age 64
    • Birthplace: Cape Girardeau, Missouri, United States of America
    • Profession: Commentator, Talk show host, Author, Radio personality, Actor
    • Credits: Forget Paris, Sunday NFL Countdown, The Rush Limbaugh Show, The 1/2 Hour News Hour, The Pat Sajak Show, + more
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