How Oprah Winfrey Became No. 1 on VH1

07/22/2003 at 08:46 AM EDT

The word is out on VH1's assessment of the 200 Greatest Pop Culture Icons, and the No. 1 icon is Oprah Winfrey, followed by second-place Superman and third-place Elvis Presley.

The series -- a 10-episode ranking of actors, musicians, politicians, academics, sports figures and fictional characters (for which PEOPLE has published a companion volume) -- debuted Monday on the cable music channel. Among the notable names, Eminem is No. 31, sandwiched between 30th-ranked Bill Cosby and No. 32 President John F. Kennedy, the Associated Press reports.

Wrestler-turned-actor The Rock bottoms out at 200, a notch lower than Queen Latifah (199) and obnoxious but watchable Cartman on "South Park" (who weighed in at 198).

The list was assembled by the VH1 staff. Network programming executive Robert Weiss tells AP that deciding factors included: Can you dress as them for Halloween? Would you recognize them by a one-word name? And has "Saturday Night Live" ever parodied them?

"I really think pop culture is a moving target, and this list is very much about now in 2003," Weiss said, acknowledging how fame is fleeting and how fickle listmakers can be. "If we did a list next year, I think there'd be some changes."

Among other curiosities: JFK Jr. (No. 24) beat his father, and Albert Einstein (108) beat Jimi Hendrix (109). But at least former president Bill Clinton (18) came in way ahead of former White House intern Monica Lewinsky (161).

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