Does Your Surname Predict Your Success?

Here is a little trick. Think of someone famous whom you consider successful. Now I bet the first letter of their last name is in the first half of the alphabet. Was I right?

According to a surname study by Richard Wiseman of The Daily Telegraph, success has a higher chance for those in the first half of the alphabet rather than the latter half. Polling readers Daily telegraph readers, Wiseman asked respondents were asked for their sex, age, surname and rate how successful they had been in various aspects of their life, such as their health, finances, career, and “life in general”. According to his data, the people whose last names begin with A,B,C… rated themselves more successful than those with …X,Y,Z last names.

N-Z Surnames Lack Success

One theory offered to explain this phenomenon is due to the way we arrange names in a list. In school, lists of students would usually be sorted in alphabetical order based on the surname. Those with last names higher on the list are generally picked first leaving the people lower on the list to be picked last. This may not seem like such a big deal until you consider this short coming spread out over the entire life of the person. When we put this into the perspective of a lifetime it is easy to see how the last half of the alphabet people can be stuck with a lack of confidence. Apparently where we are on the last name list has an impact on how we see ourselves.

This isn’t an absolute rule however, just look at Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple. There is also Shaquille O’Neil, Tiger Woods, Oprah Winfrey among others. So don’t despair N-Z last namers, there is still hope you will reach success. You guys just have a slight statistical disadvantage. Sorry.

4 Responses to “ Does Your Surname Predict Your Success? ”

  1. I have some more: Donald Trump, George Washington, Justin Timberlake, Gwen Stefani, Adam Sandler… Well i would like to think with the last name “Naude” i am borderline successful/famous!!!


  2. Shaquille O’NEAL


  3. What about the people that founded and own Wal-mart? That would be the Waltons (and I’m not talking about the tv show of the large family that lives in the mountains). Then theres the Rockefellers who have always been wealthy and successful. Now off the top of my head the famous ones with last name starting with Z and although they are not the most successful, they are still successful…. Frank Zappa(singer), Steve Zahn (actor), Renee Zellweger (actress) and lets not forget probably the most successful Z surname ever….I’d say Mark Zuckerberg has done alright for himself. You know who that is right? Let’s just say the face behind facebook! At 17.5 BILLION and not even 30 years old yet, I’d say that’s success. So although Bill Gates may be at the top of the list of wealth and success,there are several more I could list from O – Z, but I don’t want to embarrass the person that wrote this article. 😉 So don’t give up, those of us with surnames at the end of the alphabet… (me for one being a Z surname!) They’ll have to rewrite this article saying its those at the end of alphabet that are most successful.


    mysticstar responded on July 13th, 2012:

    …. So i just wanted to correct myself because the person that wrote the article did say not to give up we would just have a slight statiscal disadvantage…. well realistically I think unless we are born into wealth and success, we all have some sort of a statistic disadvantage. I think its just that surnames at the end of the alphabet are less common anyways so that’s why it seems the ones at the beginning of alphabet have more success. Its not that they’re successful because of their last name being at the beginning of alphabet, its that statiscally there are MORE surnames at the front of the alphabet. Just a thought.

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