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BREAKING NEWS

Jimmy Carter becomes oldest living American president

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Image: President Jimmy Carter speaks at Merced College in 1980.
President Jimmy Carter speaks at Merced College in 1980. -
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Jimmy Carter can add another title to a lifetime of achievements: He's now the longest-living former U.S. president.

The 39th commander-in-chief is 94 years and 172 days old as of Thursday night — surpassing George H.W. Bush, who died in November at 94 years and 171 days old.

"We at The Carter Center are grateful for his long life of service that has benefitted millions of the world's poorest people," Deanna Congileo, a spokeswoman for the Carter Center, told NBC News.

President George W. Bush, from center, meets with President-elect Barack Obama (2nd-L), former President Bill Clinton (2nd-R), former President Jimmy Carter, from right, and former President George H.W. Bush, from left, in the Oval Office on January 7, 2009.
President George W. Bush, from center, meets with President-elect Barack Obama (2nd-L), former President Bill Clinton (2nd-R), former President Jimmy Carter, from right, and former President George H.W. Bush, from left, in the Oval Office on January 7, 2009.Mark Wilson

Carter, the first American president born in a hospital, turned 94 in October. He was Georgia's 76th governor before winning the presidency in 1976 as a Democrat.

As president, he oversaw the Panama Canal treaties as well as the passage of educational programs and environmental protection legislation, such as the Alaska Lands Conservation Act.

Carter's work in the Camp David Peace Accords, where he mediated a peace agreement between Egypt and Israel in 1978, also became one of his major foreign policy undertakings.

He also faced some major setbacks in foreign policy, one being the conflict in Iran after the fall of the Shah, leading to the Iranian Revolution in 1979. The following year, Carter lost the presidential election to former actor and California Gov. Ronald Reagan.

After his presidency, Carter was dubbed the "active ex-president," received a Nobel Prize in 2002 and cemented the title with his continued participation in Habitat for Humanity home building efforts through the Carter Work Project.

Jimmy Carter hugs his wife, Rosalynn, at his Atlanta campaign headquarters on Sept. 15, 1966.
Jimmy Carter hugs his wife, Rosalynn, at his Atlanta campaign headquarters on Sept. 15, 1966.Horace Cort

He became a distinguished professor at Emory University in Atlanta in 1982. He and wife Rosalynn opened The Carter Center, a nonprofit, nonpartisan center focused on national and international issues of public policy.

In 2015, Carter, then 91,announced that he had advanced cancer and had a mass removed from his liver. He later said that the disease had spread to other parts of his body.

A few months later, he made a surprise announcement to a group of attendees in a Sunday school in Georgia that an MRI scan showed that his cancer was gone.