There’s a compelling conspiracy theory about how Patrick Dempsey won Sexiest Man Of The Year.

Patrick Dempsey is a sexy man – like, officially. The actor has been named PEOPLE magazine's Sexiest Man Alive for 2023.

But the actor's crowning didn't come with much fanfare. The overwhelming reaction online was... huh?

One comment on the magazine's Instagram announcement, simply said "I mean yes he is v attractive but it’s not 2005," as another commenter posted, "Couldn’t be a more irrelevant pick."

This is not to say that Dempsey isn't a sexy man, or even, one of the sexiest men to ever exist.

You don't become known as McDreamy for no reason, with the actor considered a verified thirst magnet on Grey's Anatomy, along with his roles in movies like Enchanted and Sweet Home Alabama.

That bouncy hair. Those piercing green eyes. That mischievous smile.

He is... a sexy man. 


At the height of Grey's Anatomy's success, he would have been a reasonable pick. In fact, 16 years ago, in 2007 – which was during the medical drama's third season – Patrick came in second behind Matt Damon as the Sexiest Man Alive.

But that was then, and this is now. The Sexiest Man Alive honour typically goes to someone who is of the moment.

Patrick only appeared in one film this year, playing Italian racing driver Piero Taruffi in the yet-to-be-released movie, Ferrari. And no shade to Dempsey, but he's not exactly the star of this film – he's just part of an ensemble cast with Adam Driver and Penelope Cruz running the show. 

The indisputable man of the moment is Ryan Gosling. He stole the show as Ken in 2023's biggest movie Barbie, and with his hilarious antics and Ken-tastic outfits on the film's publicity trail.

Other relevant contenders could be The Last of Us' Pedro Pascal, Oppenheimer stars Cillian Murphy or Robert Downey Jr, Luther and Hijack star Idris Elba, football icon David Beckham, or even Taylor Swift's latest squeeze, NFL legend Travis Kelce.


But when it comes to the PEOPLE title, it's often not so much about who deserves the title, but who wants it. Gosling has famously turned down the title multiple times, according to The Wrap.

"They tried a few times, especially during his huge year in 2011," which was a year dominated by Baby Gosling, who appeared in Crazy, Stupid, Love, Drive and The Ides of March.

"The consensus was he's too serious for it, too artsy."

There's a good chance that a number of potential sexy men were approached before PEOPLE landed on Patrick.

Another variable to consider is the Hollywood writers' strike, which JUST wrapped up on November 9, but saw the SAG-AFTRA prohibiting actors from promoting any new movies or TV shows.

The PEOPLE title has been overwhelmingly awarded to actors in the past, but with restricted ability to promote their upcoming film or TV projects, this removed the incentive for these stars to sign up for a title that involves considerable media commitments. 

Between the photo shoots, TV appearances, and interviews, it's a hard life to be a ceremonially sexy man. Without the chance to talk up a new project, all the fuss that comes with the title might sway some away from accepting it.

But what about Ferrari? Here is where things get interesting.

Patrick's upcoming film was permitted to carry on with red carpet premieres and for talent promotion due to the SAG-AFTRA granting an exception in August for independent productions with no direct ties to members of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.


This essentially means Ferrari doesn't have to abide by the same guidelines preventing most actors from doing any kind of promotional work. 

Director Michael Mann C, Adam Driver and Patrick Dempsey at the premiere. Image: Getty. 


There are also a lot of positives that come with naming Dempsey as the Sexiest Man Alive: he's the second-oldest to be crowned, he's a family man with three kids (with wife Jillian Fink), and for the most part, he's an unproblematic pick.

With the exception of one claim that he 'terrorised the set' of Grey's Anatomy before leaving the show in season 11, Patrick has escaped the kinds of Hollywood cancellations that many of his male counterparts have had to reckon with.

The actor also took the chance to promote his charity The Dempsey Center in the profile, which he founded in honour of his mother who died from ovarian cancer in 2014. 

"We help people who have been impacted by cancer," he told PEOPLE. "I think she’d be proud."

The optics of picking Patrick might just have been too good to pass up.

And ultimately, when Patrick was offered the crown of Sexiest Man Alive, he actually said yes. 

"I'm glad it's happening at this point in my life," he said of his new title.

"It's nice to have the recognition, and certainly my ego takes a little bump."

Feature image: PEOPLE. 

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