Barack Obama was yesterday named as Time magazine's Person of the Year, as a set of never-seen-before photographs emerged of the American president-elect posing in a fetching straw boater during his student days, Mail Online reported.
The black and white pictures show the dandily dressed Obama, aged around 19, smoking a cigarette whilst sitting on a wooden bench and leaning against a wall.
The future Democratic leader of the free world was spotted by aspiring photographer Lisa Jack in the canteen at Los Angeles' Occidental College and happily agreed to model for her.
'He was very charismatic even then,' recalled Ms Jack, who stored the negatives in her basement for a quarter of a century and refused to release them before the election because she did not want them used for political purposes.
Ms Jack, who was 22 when she took the pictures, lost touch with Mr Obama shortly after the photo session. But she spotted him recently whilst touring Capitol Hill and yelled out his name.
'He knew exactly who I was after all this time. I was amazed,' she said.
Ms Jack, now a psychologist, eventually agreed to give the prints to Time, to coincide with its Person of the Year award.
'These are historic photos and they should be shared,' she said.
Naming him, Time said: 'In one of the craziest elections in American history, he overcame a lack of experience, a funny name, two candidates who are political institutions and the racial divide to become the 44th President of the United States.
He won the award 'for having the confidence to sketch an ambitious future in a gloomy hour' and showing 'the competence that makes Americans hopeful he might pull it off'.
'He has come to dominate the public sphere so completely that it beggars belief to recall that half the people in America had never heard of him two years ago - that even his campaign manager, at the outset, wasn't sure Obama had what it would take to win the election.'
Accepting the award, Mr Obama, 47, told the magazine that his priorities in the first two years of office would be economic recovery and closing Guantanamo Bay prison camp 'in a responsible way.'
Along with Hillary Clinton, his choice for Secretary of State, he said he hoped to manage a smooth transition in Iraq and be more effective in solving problems in Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Kashmir and Iran.
Asked about his hopes for economic recovery, he said: 'I don't have a crystal ball and economists are all over the map on this one.
'I think we should anticipate that 2009 is going to be a tough year.
'And if we make some good choices, I'm confident that we can limit some of the damage in 2009 and that in 2010 we can start seeing an upward trajectory on the economy.
Illinois senator Mr Obama, who will be sworn in as America's 44th president on January 20, reiterated his promise to provide tax cuts for 95 per cent of working Americans.
But asked how people would see him two years into office, he said he hoped they would say: 'Government's not perfect.
'There are some things Obama does that get on my nerves. But you know what? I feel the government's working for me.'
The choice of Obama as Person of the Year was not surprising considering the run-up to November's election. However, Time's runners-up were more varied.
The magazine said US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson was chosen because 'a lame duck president has given him nearly complete control over the country's economic policy in the midst of an epic financial collapse.'
Former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin was chosen for making 'the most astonishing political debut in modern times' and Zhang Yimou was named for creating the spectacular Beijing Olympic Games opening ceremony.
And French president Nicolas Sarkozy was picked simply because he 'has put France on the map.'