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Officially, Hillary and the expedition leader John Hunt always insisted that the two men reached the top together, but Norgay disclosed in his autobiography that Hillary was actually the first to put his foot on the summit, and that he was literally a step behind. Hillary, who died in 2008, was awarded a knighthood for the feat, and Norgay, who died in 1986, received the George Medal, which is the highest award the British Empire can give to a non-citizen. In any case, the distinction of reaching the summit first really belongs to both men, who became global heroes. Norgay, in particular, became a hero to lower-caste Indian people as well as Nepalese Sherpas. Hillary was voted one of TIME Magazine's 100 most influential men of the twentieth century, and devoted much of the rest of his life to advocating for the protection of the culture, lifestyle, and homelands of the Sherpa.
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