Tesla Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk was named Time magazine’s 2021 “Person of the Year” on Monday.
“Person of the Year is a marker of influence, and few individuals have had more influence than Musk on life on Earth, and potentially life off Earth too,” Time editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal wrote. “In 2021, Musk emerged not just as the world’s richest person but also as perhaps the richest example of a massive shift in our society.”
This tradition from Time began in 1927 as “Man of the Year” and has since changed to not only recognize an individual, but also to consider the impact of a group, movement or idea that had the most influence in the past year. In 2020, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were picked together as of Person of the Year. The annual choice is not necessarily considered an honor, since the selection could have wielded negative influence. For example, Adolf Hitler was named Man of the Year in 1938.
Magazine also has evolved the tradition into a larger franchise by introducing additional categories in 2019. This year, pop star Olivia Rodrigo was named Artist of the Year and four-time Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles was selected as Athlete of the Year. The title of Heroes of the Year, previously known as “Guardians,” went to the scientists behind the mRNA covid-19 vaccine specifically Katalin Kariko, Barney Graham, Kizzmekia Corbett and Drew Weissman.