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26 Famous People Who Were on the Debate Team

Updated June 14, 2019 95.9k views26 items

List of Famous People Who Were on the Debate Team, loosely ranked by fame and popularity. A debate team is a great way for young people to learn how to resolve issues with their words. It is also a great place for future actors, leaders and politicians to learn how to speak in front of large crowds. Many high schools and colleges have debate or forensics teams that compete at local, national and international levels. Which celebrities have been on debate teams? 

Who is the most famous person who was on the debate team? Oprah Winfrey tops our list. The talk show host was on the debate team in high school and she competed at the National Forensics League nationals competition. Winfrey used her skills to debate issues with various people from all over the world on her talk show. She also showed her love for debate by producing the 2007 film The Great Debaters starring Denzel Washington as a college debate coach.

Several comedians also competed in debate. Billy Madison actor Adam Sandler participated on his college debate team. Fellow Saturday Night Live alum John Belushi also competed in debate in both college and high school, as did his brother Jim Belushi. Other funny people who competed in debate include Arsenio Hall, Kelsey Grammer, and Steve Buscemi.

Do you think that participating on the debate team helped these people prepare for their careers? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

  • Oprah Winfrey
    Photo: Metaweb / CC-BY
    Oprah Winfrey was on the debate team in high school and she competed at the National Forensics League nationals.
    • Age: 66
    • Birthplace: Kosciusko, Mississippi, United States of America

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  • Adam Sandler
    Photo: Metaweb / CC-BY
    "Billy Madison" actor Adam Sandler participated in his college debate team.
    • Age: 54
    • Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States of America

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  • Roger Ebert
    Photo: Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY
    Film critic Roger Ebert was the Illinois state champion in the forensics division of radio speaking.
    • Age: Dec. at 71 (1942-2013)
    • Birthplace: USA, Urbana, Illinois

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  • South Africa's President Nelson Mandela competed on his college debate team.
    • Age: Dec. at 95 (1918-2013)
    • Birthplace: Mvezo, South Africa

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