Billionaire Elon Musk, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and protesters in Iran are among the finalists for Time Magazine’s 2022 Person of the Year.
Every year since 1927, Time’s Person of the Year has set activists, world leaders, celebrities and epidemic fighters on its front cover, spotlighting their impact.
Last year, Time bequeathed the title to the CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, Elon Musk, calling attention to his rise as a figure in tech through his advancement in automotive and spacecraft engineering.
Musk is nominated once again, with a chance to win the title for the second year in a row.
Last year, Time cited the Tesla and SpaceX CEO’s contributions toward “creating solutions to an existential crisis” and for “embodying the possibilities and perils of the age of tech titans.”
The magazine faced criticism for selecting Musk, the world’s richest man, as the 2021 Person of the Year, a move that came the same year Pro Publica reported the billionaire paid nothing or very little in income taxes in the past.
This year, Musk dominated the spotlight with his purchase of Twitter for $44 billion. Musk has made a series of controversial changes at the social media company, leading to concerns about Twitter’s future.
China’s president Xi Jinping appeared on Time’s list of candidates in 2019, when the leader faced unrest as pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong, a special administrative region, pushed back on a proposed bill that would permit the city’s citizens to be extradited in China.
This year, ahead of the 2022 Winter Olympics, the leader of China met with Russia’s president Vladimir Putin, where they aligned in standing against “external forces.”
During a September meeting between China and Russia, which marked their first exchange since Russia invaded Ukraine, Xi described Putin as his “old friend” and declared that China supported Russia’s “core interest.”
In August, China launched ballistic missiles around Taiwan in what was announced as military drills in response to U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the island.
In October, Xi began a historic third five-year term as communist party leader of China after the two-term limit for presidents ended in 2018.
The Supreme Court
The U.S. Supreme Court overturned the nearly 50-year-old case precedent Roe v. Wade in June, enacting one of the most controversial rulings in the high court’s modern history.
With abortion no longer protected under the Constitution, the ruling opened the door for about half of all states to severely restrict abortion access.
Justice Clarence Thomas was also among the most controversial figures in the news this year, after his wife was reportedly involved with the Trump administration’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
Following the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, Rep. Liz Cheney has continuously voiced her support for the impeachment of former President Donald Trump, which has had resounding effects on her political career over the last year and a half.
Just months after first expressing support for Trump’s impeachment, the House Republicans voted to remove Cheney from the No. 3 position in caucus leadership.
Then, in August 2022, the congresswoman lost her House seat in the Wyoming primary to her Trump-endorsed opponent, Harriet Hageman.
Following the loss, Cheney spoke with TODAY’s Savannah Guthrie in an exclusive interview on Aug. 17, where she said she would do “whatever it takes to keep Donald Trump out of the Oval Office” in the next election.
The Ukrainian president shot to international fame this year as he has ferociously defended his country against a Russian invasion.
Zelensky is known for his green shirt and tough, no-nonsense demeanor — but also his frequent, warm and reassuring addresses to the Ukrainian people.
The president has in recent months led Ukraine to victory after victory, pushing Russian forces back and reclaiming lost territory.
With her 4% stake in Amazon, a company started by her ex-husband Jeff Bezos, MacKenzie Scott took this year to move the goal post for big philanthropy and quite literally put her money where her mouth is.
In May, Scott made history with a $122.6 million donation to Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, which aims to help children achieve their potential through fostering strong relationships with mentors across the country. Scott’s contribution is historic to the organization, marking the highest donation by a single person in their 118-year existence.
Protesters in Iran
Protests have swept across Iran since mid-September after the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police custody. Amini was arrested for improperly wearing a hijab.
The historic protests have created an unprecedented challenge for the Iranian regime, which has cracked down hard with security forces and killed what is estimated to be hundreds of protesters.
At the World Cup, the Iranian soccer team refused to sing the national anthem in a show of support for protesters.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ efforts to restrict LGBTQ rights in schools across the state and his recent political win in the general election has garnered attention this year.
On March 28, DeSantis signed the Parental Rights in Education Act which prohibits “classroom instruction” on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third-grade classes in Florida.
Soon after, the Walt Disney Company voiced its opposition to the law, which resulted in DeSantis signing another bill to repeal House Bill No. 486, which had been established in 1967 and granted Disney the privilege to self-govern its district in Florida.
Outside of his beef with Mickey, DeSantis has shown no signs of losing focus on his own political achievements.
Though this year’s election cycle turned over bleak results for Republicans, DeSantis emerged from the voting ballots as his party’s most significant win.
His reelection win cemented him as the GOP’s sharpest and most conspicuous weapon — a Trump alternative in the quickly approaching United States presidential election.
Yellen made history when she became the first female Treasury secretary in 2021.
This year, she oversaw the rollout of the American Women Quarters Program, which is designed to honor historic and trailblazing women on the nation’s official quarters.
Yellen worked this year to reassure Americans about the economy amid high inflation and soaring gas prices.
Gun Safety Advocates
By late November, the United States surpassed 600 mass shootings, an alarming statistic that has occurred in the country for the third year in a row.
High-profile mass shootings have overtaken headlines, among them a racially motivated attack in May that killed ten people, all of whom were Black, at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York, and just over a week later, the deadly school shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, that killed 19 students and two teachers.
Engagement efforts to instill a sense of urgency to press warring politicians and leaders to address the gun epidemic felt, in many ways, futile. Still, gun safety advocates rallied.
On June 11, over 450 demonstrations took place across the country in reaction to the Buffalo and Uvalde shootings with the goal of pushing lawmakers to take action against gun violence.
The next day, two senators on opposite sides of the gun debate — Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut and Republican Sen. John Cornyn from Texas — announced they’d come to a framework agreement on new gun legislation, which included “red flag” laws and enhanced background checks on buyers.