Yes, George Clooney and Brad Pitt have shamelessly campaigned for him since 2001, but this year’s winner was Bourne to the title. Named America’s most bankable star by Forbes, the golden boy with the crooked smile is smart, charming and humble to boot. “You gave an aging suburban dad the ego boost of a lifetime,” wrote Damon, 37, in a letter to PEOPLE, explaining why he couldn’t possibly accept the crown. Unfortunately for him, his gambit backfired, because the letter—which we’ve reprinted, with his permission, on the next page—perfectly demonstrates many of the reasons we chose him in the first place: irresistible sense of humor, rock-solid family man (he and wife Luciana have two daughters), heart-melting humility. And to bolster our case even more, we called in for backup from former title-holders Clooney and Ben Affleck, who also offer their insights into why—like it or not—Damon is this year’s Sexiest Man Alive.