More Americans searched Yahoo for Miley Cyrus than Obamacare

This image released by MTV shows Miley Cyrus performing at the MTV Video Music Awards at Barclays Center on Sunday, Aug. 25, 2013, in the Brooklyn bor...
This image released by MTV shows Miley Cyrus performing at the MTV Video Music Awards at Barclays Center on Sunday, Aug. 25, 2013, in the Brooklyn borough of New York. (AP Photo/MTV, John Shearer)John Shearer / AP file

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By Keith Wagstaff
Miley Cyrus climbed up the search charts after performing at the MTV Video Music Awards at Barclays Center on Aug. 25.John Shearer / Today

Miley Cyrus was officially the most searched term overall on Yahoo in 2013, beating out more serious issues like the hotly debated Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. 

In related news, the most popular question starting with "What" happened to be "What is twerking?"

The 21-year-old Cyrus became a pop culture phenomenon after her provocative performance during the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards, where she twerked next to 36-year-old singer Robin Thicke.  

On Yahoo, the country's third most popular search engine according to comScore, she beat out two other female celebrities, reality TV star Kim Kardashian and supermodel Kate Upton, who were the second and third most-searched terms, according to the company's annual Year in Review report. 

She wasn't so lucky on Microsoft's Bing, the second most used search engine behind Google, where she trailed Beyonce, Rihanna and six others on the most-searched person list. Who will take the Google crown is still a matter of speculation, as the Mountain View, Calif., company hasn't yet released its 2013 report.

Cyrus' coronation as Yahoo's most popular search term comes a year after people spent their time online fretting about the presidential election. 

"Last year, we were really in the throes of election politicking for a good two or three years beforehand," Yahoo web trend analyst Vera Chan told reporters. In 2012, "election" was the most searched term, with "political polls" coming in at No. 8 on the list. "In a way, the top 10 this year is a return to form."

Yes, Americans are willing to care about things that don't matter again, like Selena Gomez (No. 5) and Justin Bieber (No. 10). Not that the United States has totally forgotten about politics. Obamacare was the No. 6 most-searched term in the United States, as well as the second most-searched news story, trailing the Jodi Arias trial.

Other events Yahoo users were curious about: the Boston Marathon bombing, which beat out both the royal baby birth and the George Zimmerman trial. The other big story in Washington, the 16-day partial government shutdown, barely missed the top 10, according to Chan.

MORE: Beyoncé, royal baby top America's 2013 Bing searches

Yahoo also measured what it called "obsessions," terms that saw the biggest spikes of interest, as opposed to the most searches averaged out over the entire year.

So, what did Americans get obsessed about? TV shows. The terms that got the three biggest surges on Yahoo were A&E's reality show "Duck Dynasty" and AMC dramas "Breaking Bad" and "The Walking Dead," respectively. (Twerking came in at No. 6, right above the photo-sharing site Snapchat). 

"It points to the Golden Age of television that we have been in, as well as the habit of binge-watching and our time-shifted culture," said Chan, noting the increased popularity of cable shows available for streaming on services like Netflix.

Americans also asked plenty of questions on Yahoo, echoing the frustrations of political pundits with the third most asked "Why" question, "Why is the government shut down?" That was followed by the less timely, "Why is the sky blue?"

Keith Wagstaff writes about technology for NBC News. He previously covered technology for TIME's Techland and wrote about politics as a staff writer at You can follow him on Twitter at @kwagstaff and reach him by email at: