The runners-up this year were: the president , Nancy Pelosi, the Hong Kong Protesters and the Whistleblower. In 2016, that tangerine-hued wanna-be gangster from Queens was actually named Person of the Year by the magazine, which might seem outrageous, but despite the Time‘s frequent statements to the contrary, the designation is usually regarded as an honor, and spoken of as an award or prize, like the Pulitzer, the Nobel or the Oscar. However, despicable people such as Adolf Hitler (1938), Joseph Stalin (1939 and 1942), Nikita Khrushchev (1957), Ayatollah Khomeini (1979), and Rudolph Giuliani (2001) have also been granted the title for the impacts they made on the world.
The tradition began in 1927 with “Man of the Year”, an attempt to remedy the embarrassment of not having famed aviator Charles Lindbergh on its cover following his historic trans-Atlantic flight earlier that year.
Every serving POTUS has been a Man of the Year at least once, except Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover and Gerald Ford. Most were named Man or Person of the Year the year they were elected or while they were in office; the only one to be given the title before being elected is Dwight D. Eisenhower, in 1944, eight years before his election. He received the title again in 1959, while in office. Franklin D. Roosevelt is the only person to have received the title three times, 1932, 1934 and 1941.
In 1999, the title was smartly changed to “Person of the Year”. Before that, four women were given the title, three as “Woman of the Year”: Wallis Simpson (1936), Queen Elizabeth II (1952), and Corazon Aquino (1986). “American Women” were recognized as a group in 1975. Other classes of people recognized have been: “The American Fighting-Man” (1950), “Hungarian Freedom Fighters” (1956), “U.S. Scientists” (1960), “Baby Boomers” (1966) “The Middle Americans” (1969), “The American Soldier” (2003), “You” (2006), and “The Protester” (2011) represented on the cover by a woman. The 1960 “U.S. Scientists” edition featured only men on its cover. It was not until the 1969 edition on “The Middle Americans” did the title become “Man and Woman of the Year”.
Sometimes, non-humans have been named; there was “The Computer” (1982) and “The Endangered Earth” (1988).
Groups have been named also, including “The Good Samaritans” (2002) represented by Bono, Bill Gates, and Melinda Gates. “The Silence Breakers” (2017), those that spoke out against sexual abuse and harassment that started the #MeToo movement, including Ashley Judd, Taylor Swift, Alyssa Milano, and Selma Blair; “Ebola Fighters” (2014); “The Guardians” (2018), the journalists who faced persecution, arrest or murder for their reporting.
My research shows that there has been only one LGBTQ figure as Person of the Year, Mahatma Gandhi (1930) although are few adjacent queer people like Billie Jean King and Barbara Jordan, both featured with “The American Woman” cover (1975).
In June 2017, reporters spotted a framed copy of Time hung at Mar-a-Lago and at least four of President Deadbeat Don’s golf clubs. Filling the entire cover was a photo of the orange-kissed mess himself. The headline read: Donald Trump: The Apprentice’ is a television smash!. Above the Time nameplate, there is another headline in all caps:
TRUMP IS HITTING ON ALL FRONTS . . . EVEN TV!
The cover is dated March 1, 2009 and looks like an impressive memento of his pre-presidential career. Even when he was just a reality-television star, Trump was the kind of star who got a cover story in Time, except the cover is a fake. There was no March 1, 2009, issue of Time; here was no issue at all in 2009 that had him on the cover.
In November 2017, Draft Dodging Donnie tweeted that Time editors had told him he would “probably” be named Person of the Year for a second time, conditional on an interview and photo shoot which he had refused. Timedenied that they had made any such promises or conditions and asked him to remove them. Donald Tax-Duck has been on the cover of Time magazine 29 times. He keeps stacks of magazines with his image on the cover in the Oval Office.
Last year he told a reporter:
“Look at that picture of me on Time. It’s a movement! Isn’t that an amazing picture? It’s been a lot of fun.”