If you’re a student at the University of Michigan, chances are good that you know a Michael or two. For starters, there’s Olympic gold-medal swimmer Michael Phelps, Michigan football star Michael Hart and standout pitcher Michael Powers.
But that’s just the beginning of the list.
There are 792 Michaels at the University of Michigan – 348 more than the most popular
female name, Sarah.
That’s surprisingly dominant, considering the student body is roughly half male and half female.
LSA sophomore Michael Spitulnik said he wasn’t surprised to learn that there are 791 other students walking around campus with his name. Spitulnik said he has five friends named Michael.
“I mean, I knew a lot of Michaels, so it wasn’t that big of a deal,” he said. “When we hang out, people call me Michael or Mike – I don’t really care, just as long as it’s not Mikey.”
According to social security application data posted online by the federal government, Michael was the number one name given to newborn boys every year from 1961 to 1988 and was the second most common baby name last year. It has 44 international variant forms, many of which are equally popular in foreign countries.
That means Mick Jagger and Mikhail Gorbachev are still Michaels in spirit.
LSA freshman Ha Ryong Jung, who is Korean, said his parents and his Catholic Church gave him the English name Michael when he was in kindergarten. He was named after Michael, an archangel in the New Testament who led heaven’s armies and has a celebration in his honor on Sept. 29. The name, which means “He who resembles God” in Hebrew, is also often an English transliteration of Spitulnik’s Hebrew name “Moshe,” he said.
Spitulnik said religion played a part in his own naming as well.
“There were some other popular names like Max and Mark, but my cousin that was born a year before was named Max, and my mom’s brother’s name is Mark,” he said. “Ashkenazi Jews don’t believe in naming someone after another relative who’s still alive.”
Both Michaels said they appreciate their name in different ways.
Spitulnik said he was honored to share the name of honorable historical figures and that he views himself as a capable leader. “It’s my name,” Spitulnik said. “I don’t have any complaints about it.”