It all started with a simple poll. On December 11, TIME magazine (TIME Digital's editorial parent) invited visitors to vote for the Man of the Year at its web site. Voters were allowed to write in any name they wanted to. One contingent, which included many members of the gay community, was pulling for Matthew Shepard, the gay college student from Wyoming who was murdered last October. Another major bloc was backing pro wrestler Mick Foley. Before long the two were neck and neck for the lead.