A tech visionary, a veteran talk show host, two presidents — current and former — a preacher and a baseball player with good attendance are among the people under consideration for the first-ever postage stamp to honor a living or recently deceased American, according to U.S. Postal Service officials not authorized to speak publicly.
Former Apple chief Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey, evangelist Billy Graham, President Obama, former president Bill Clinton, comedian Jerry Lewis and Baltimore Orioles great Cal Ripken have received the most nominations from customers who submitted ideas by mail. Among customers who submitted ideas through Twitter and Facebook, Lady Gaga is tops.
Many participants also think that recipients of the military’s Medal of Honor should earn the thumb-sized recognition.
The Postal Service in September waived a rule requiring a stamp honoree to be dead at least five years, and in an effort to boost interest and sagging sales, postal officials asked customers to use social media or snail mail (naturally), to nominate an “American or American-related subjects,” who “made enduring contributions to the United States of America.”
USPS has received at least 1,500 submissions by mail and more than 1,000 through social media, sources said.
Jobs died at age 56 from pancreatic cancer in early October, just days after the contest was announced. Graham was hospitalized Wednesday and is waiting to learn whether he has pneumonia. Winfrey, the former talk show host, runs an eponymously named cable television network and frequently tops lists of the most admired women or American. Lewis stepped down this year as host of the annual Muscular Distrophy Labor Day telethon, while Ripken, who retired from baseball in 2001, holds the record for consecutive games played (2,130). In the past 15 months, Obama has presented the Medal of Honor to two living veterans of the war in Afghanistan, Army Staff Sgt. Salvatore A. Giunta and Marine Sgt. Dakota Meyer, and other deceased veterans.
Customers are encouraged to submit ideas for postage stamp subjects through the mail to the Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee, which submits names and subjects to Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe to choose from each year. The panel, made up of former postal officials, artists, designers and congressional staffers, reviews more than 40,000 suggestions selects about 50 for consideration each year.
Ideas for stamps must be mailed in and the panel does not consider e-mailed submissions. The commission may be reached at:
Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee
c/o Stamp Development
U.S. Postal Service
475 L’Enfant Plaza SW, Room 3300
Washington, DC 20260-3501
Donahoe said last week that he would make a decision on the new stamp honor next year.
USPS spends about $40,000 to develop and produce each new stamp. Though the Postal Service does not pay license fees for the images of a character or famous person, it does pay about $5,000 to artists and designers to produce the final image.
Stamps generate between $250 million and $300 million in annual sales, a fraction of total postal revenues.
Agree or disagree with the finalists? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Follow Ed O’Keefe on Twitter: @edatpost