When Wayne Gretzky chose his jersey number, he wanted to honour one of his idols: number 9, the great Gordie Howe.

But the number was already taken when Gretzky came to the junior Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in 1977-78, so his coach at the time suggested that he change his number to double 9, and the legendary image-sign of the number 99 was born.

But the number has a deeper significance, for Gretzky represented the very best the game of hockey ever offered — the 99th percentile. His scoring records won't be broken for years, nor will a team likely ever win five Stanley Cups in six years again. He is hard-working and humble, and generally represents the kind of qualities you would want in a partner, or a son, or a friend.

He is also handsome and telegenic, and was the ambassador the NHL picked to sell the game in star-studded Los Angeles some years ago. In relation to the general population, Gretzky's looks are more like the 99.99966th percentile.

Now retired, Gretzky is the pitchman for all sorts of products, ranging from automobiles to his own clothing line. Why? The 99th percentile sells.

Regardless of Gretzky's other attributes, if he weren't attractive, his popularity wouldn't be nearly as Great. There are no ugly sports stars hawking goods out there. Think about it.


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