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12 Famous People Who Attended Auburn University

Auburn University is one of the most famous institutions for developing athletes, but it has also welcomed tons of great people in other areas, too.

Even though the first names off the top of your head are likely famous Auburn Tigers athletes, there are a ton of Auburn alumni anyone should be proud to scream War Eagle alongside.

From Hall of Fame football and basketball players to the CEO of a Fortune 500 business, or one of the best home run hitters ever to a YouTube personality, there's one constant: Auburn produces talent.

12 Famous Auburn University Alumni

12. Taylor Hicks

CLEVELAND - MAY 11: Recording artist Taylor Hicks sings the National Anthem prior to the Boston Celtics playing Cleveland Cavaliers in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2010 NBA Playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena on May 11, 2010 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Unless you watched "American Idol," there is a chance you don't know who songwriter Taylor Hicks is, but he was the winner of the show's fifth season. He is originally from Birmingham, Alabama, and attended Auburn in the late 1990s while studying business and journalism.

11. Pat Sullivan

NEW YORK , NY - DECEMBER 12: ( L- R ) Bo Jackson (1985), Cam Newton (2010) and Pat Sullivan (1971) the three Heisman Trophy winners from the Auburn University Tigers pose during a portrait session on December 12, 2010 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: Photographer approval needed for all Commercial License requests. (Photo by Kelly Kline/Getty Images for the Heisman)

RELATED: The Best Quarterbacks in Auburn Tigers History, Ranked

He doesn't get the recognition he probably deserves as the first Heisman Trophy winner in Auburn history, but Sullivan was easily one of the best football players to ever suit up for the Tigers. He didn't have a great NFL career, but being the first to do anything, especially being named the best player college football for a storied program like Auburn University, it is notable.

Sullivan passed away on December 1, 2019. He was 69.

10. Frank Thomas

COOPERSTOWN, NY - JULY 29: Hall of Famer Frank Thomas is introduced during the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony at the Clark Sports Center on July 29, 2018 in Cooperstown, New York. (Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Easily one of, if not the best, baseball players in school history, The Big Hurt was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2014. It was football that brought Frank Thomas to Auburn, receiving a scholarship to play tight end, but he joined the baseball team and became the best player in the Southeastern Conference when he was named the SEC Player of the Year as a senior. He finished his 19-year career in MLB with 521 home runs.

9. Jimmy Wales

Jimmy Wales, founder of online encyclopedia Wikipedia poses for a portrait in London on January 13, 2021. - Social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook did a "poor job" of dealing with outgoing US President Donald Trump for a "very, very long time", Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has said. (Photo by Daniel LEAL / AFP) (Photo by DANIEL LEAL/AFP via Getty Images)

You may not know his name, but you definitely know his greatest creation. In 2001, Jimmy Wales became the co-founder of Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia that is one of the most visited websites today. From that point on, he helped millions of people B.S. their way through papers in high school and college.

Wales was born in Huntsville and actually shares allegiances to both Auburn and the University of Alabama; his bachelor's degree is from AU, and his Master's degree is from UA.

8. Meghan McCarthy

HOLLYWOOD, CA - SEPTEMBER 20: YouTube personality Meghan McCarthy arrives at the premiere of Lionsgate's 'Dirty 30' at ArcLight Hollywood on September 20, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images)

Gaining followers on Vine and YouTube, Meghan McCarthy has become pretty famous with over two million followers on YouTube and over 100,000 followers on Twitter.

7. Octavia Spencer

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 02: Octavia Spencer attends the Los Angeles premiere of Amazon Studios 'Encounter' at Directors Guild Of America on December 02, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/WireImage)

Octavia Spencer is easily one of the most recognizable actresses with recognition from the Golden Globes, Oscars and Academy Awards. She got her start in acting just two years after graduating from Auburn as a part of the Class of 1994. Today, she is best known for roles in "The Help," "Hidden Figures," "Ma" and "Gifted."

6. Lionel Richie

US singer-songwriter Lionel Richie poses in the press room during the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in Cleveland, Ohio on October 30, 2021. (Photo by Dustin Franz / AFP) (Photo by DUSTIN FRANZ/AFP via Getty Images)

The four-time Grammy Award winner is one of American music's most popular voices. Born in Tuskegee, Alabama, Richie briefly passed through AU, but he actually graduated from Tuskegee University with an economics degree in 1974. It was at Tuskegee that he met several of the band members that would eventually form The Commodores.

In 2018, Auburn University paid tribute to Richie and pioneering journalist Judy Woodruff as lifetime achievement honorees at the International Quality of Life Awards.

5. Tim Cook

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 19: Apple CEO Tim Cook attends the grand opening event of the new Apple store at The Grove on November 19, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. The original Apple store in The Grove was opened in 2002 but was redesigned in a new location with twice the space and opened today in time for the holiday shopping season. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

There are few people in the world with a better title than Tim Cook, who is the CEO of Apple Inc.

Cook graduated from Auburn in 1982, and he took the position as the head of Apple in 2011, just a few months before Steve Jobs passed away. He is one of the biggest supporters and boosters of the Auburn Tigers athletics.

4. Cam Newton

Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Few players in Auburn University history have had the success that Cam Newton had in 2010. The quarterback led the Tigers to an NCAA National Championship while also winning the Heisman Trophy and being picked first-overall in the 2011 NFL Draft.

He won the 2011 Rookie of the Year Award, then the NFL MVP in 2015, and he led the Carolina Panthers to the Super Bowl against the Denver Broncos. He is also known for the wild outfits he has worn to press conferences during his NFL career.

3. Charles Barkley

LISA O'CONNOR/AFP via Getty Images

Few people are as popular today as Sir Charles. Not only as a basketball player, but also as a television personality and sports commentator. I could listen to him commentate any sporting event no matter what it is. During his three seasons at Auburn, "The Round Mound of Rebound" averaged 14.1 points and 9.6 rebounds per game on his way to winning SEC Player of the Year in 1984.

Barkley was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006 after averaging 22 points and 11 rebounds over 16 NBA season with the Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns and Houston Rockets. The two-time Olympic gold medalist was an 11-time All-Star and the 1992-93 Most Valuable Player.

2. Jimmy Buffett

Wantagh, N.Y.: Jimmy Buffet and his Coral Reefer Band performs at Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theatre on August 10, 2021. (Photo by Thomas A. Ferrara/Newsday RM via Getty Images)

Oh yeah. The king of Margaritaville once looked for his lost shaker of salt at Auburn University.

A brief stint at AU found the Sigma Pi pledge struggling in the classroom. (He apparently told an Auburn University crowd in 1979 that he left school with a 0.32 GPA.) It was at one of those fraternity parties, however, that Buffett realized he wanted to be a musician so that he could meet girls.

So thanks, Auburn. Without you, we might have never had Jimmy Buffett.

1. Bo Jackson

George Rose/Getty Images

I mean, who else would it be?

Bo Jackson won the 1985 Heisman Trophy and is easily one of the best running backs and athletes in sports history. He was a two-time Consensus All-American while playing for head coach Pat Dye and absolutely electrified Auburn fans every game day.

One of his most famous moments as a pro came in a Los Angeles Raiders uniform when he ran over infamous linebacker Brian Bosworth.

Jackson is known as the ultimate athlete since he was not only able to succeed in the NFL, but also as a professional baseball player. If not for a career-ending hip injury, we might have seen Bo become the a two-sport Hall of Famer. From the iconic "Bo Knows" ad campaign with Nike to being the face of the Tecmo Bowl football video game, there will never be another Bo Jackson.

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This article was originally published October 15, 2019.

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