Imagine what it’d be like if every time you stepped out of a car or into a room, thousands of fans screamed excitedly and applauded, or if every time you designed a new gadget, people stood in line for hours just to be the first to buy it. And whenever someone took a picture of you walking your dog or grocery shopping, it would sell for thousands of dollars. Such is the amazing lives of celebrities today, so it’s no surprise that most of them have egos roughly the size of Texas. But even within this elite, self-satisfied group are those who believe that their star shines just a little bit brighter than everyone else’s. It’s a wonder some of these famous faces can even fit their inflated heads through regular doors.
Biggest Ego in Business: Steve Jobs
On the 1996 PBS television program “Triumph of the Nerds: The Rise of Accidental Empires,” Jobs was described thusly: “With this guy, we’re not talking about someone driven by … a desire for an opulent retirement at the age of forty. No, we’re talking holy war; we’re talking rivers of blood and fields of dead martyrs to the cause of greater computing.”
In 2010, Jobs is still a leader as celebrated for his innovation as he is reviled for his cockiness. His stubbornness about extending iPhone usage to non–AT&T customers, as well as his outright refusal to add helpful programs, like Adobe Flash, to the platform because he feels that they’re not worthy of his product, has earned Jobs many critics. (And he openly—and personally—criticizes them right back.) But not once has his giant ego wavered—even after Apple booted him back in the ’80s because of his inability to cooperate with others. Instead, now that he’s positioned himself as Apple’s savant, he’s even less willing to listen to anyone else, because he obviously knows best.
Ego-riffic quote: “My job is not to be easy on people. My job is to make them better.”
Biggest Ego in Music: Kayne West
In a genre that includes 50 Cent and Diddy, it’s no small feat that West is now known as the biggest egomaniac in the hip-hop world. He’s called himself the “voice of this generation,” which might be why he felt justified in interrupting Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards to tell her and the millions of other people watching that Beyoncé deserved it more. That’s when his narcissism went from being mildly amusing to downright disgusting. But perhaps there’s hope yet—at the 2010 VMAs, he said that he wrote a song specifically for Swift: “I wrote a song … that’s so beautiful and I want her to have it. If she won’t take it then I’ll perform it for her,” he wrote on Twitter. Pretty selfless, huh?
Ego-riffic quote: “I am God’s vessel. But my greatest pain in life is that I will never be able to see myself perform live.”
Biggest Ego in Sports: Shaquille O’Neal
Every bit of Shaq’s seven-foot, one-inch body is filled to the brim with love for himself. Not that his self-love is without merit—he’s one of the best players in NBA history, and his name will surely end up in the Hall of Fame after he retires. But his ego has also led him to demand increasingly hefty paychecks and to feud with other players, both of which have resulted in Shaq’s transferring from team to team. However, it seems that he remains his number one fan, judging by the reality TV show he debuted last year, called Shaq Vs., on which he proves his self-given title of “the greatest athlete” by trying to beat other famous athletes and performers at their own specialties.
Ego-riffic quote: “It’s hard being the NBA’s sex symbol, but somebody has to do it.”
Biggest Ego in Hollywood: Paris Hilton
There are countless contenders for this dubious honor. For example, US Weekly readers voted Justin Timberlake celebrity with the biggest ego for saying that he single-handedly increased McDonald’s shares by working with the company. Then there’s J.Lo, whose crazy backstage riders are as infamous as the green Versace dress she wore to the Grammys in 2000. But none comes close to Paris Hilton, who actually has women compete for the role of her best friend on the TV show My New BFF. Yes, she thinks she’s that important. (And, sadly, so do MTV producers.)
Lest you think it’s all for the cameras, Tina Fey provided the inside scoop on Hilton during a 2007 interview with Howard Stern, saying that the cast made a bet to see if she asked anyone personal questions, like “How are you today?” Seth Meyers came closest to winning when Hilton asked him, “Is Maya Rudolph Italian?”
Ego-riffic quote: “Because there’s nobody in the world like me. I think every decade has an iconic blonde—like Marilyn Monroe or Princess Diana—and right now, I’m that icon.”
Biggest Ego in Politics: Glenn Beck
There’s no question that conservative pundit Glenn Beck has delusions of grandeur, comparing himself to revolutionary Thomas Paine and claiming that he’s helping to fulfill God’s plan. But he took egomania to a whole new level on August 28, 2010, when he held a “Restoring Honor” rally at the Lincoln Memorial for Tea Party members and conservatives—on the same date that Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous “I have a dream” speech. Beck had already aligned himself with beloved figures like God and Thomas Paine; why not throw MLK into the mix as well?
Ego-riffic quote: “I was in the Vatican and I was surprised that the individual I was speaking to knew who I was. And they said, ‘Of course we know who you are. What you’re doing is wildly important.’”
To find success in politics or in the entertainment realm, you’ve got to enter the fold with a little bit of ego already. Taking pride in accomplishments is one thing; giving yourself iconic status, on the other hand? To paraphrase one of the aforementioned egomaniacs, that’s severely un-hot.
Photo source: Wikimedia Commons