On Monday, Dec. 5, Time revealed its 10-person shortlist for 2022 Person of the Year, narrowed down by the magazine’s editors based on who they felt had the most influence on the world this 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.
On Wednesday, Dec. 7, Time will reveal its selection for 2022 Person of the Year exclusively on TODAY.
Below, in no particular order, find Time’s candidates who are up for the title.
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.
The U.S. Supreme Court
In 2022, the Supreme Court sparked controversy and debate across the country over abortion rights, affirmative action, gun control and anti-water pollution laws.
In June, the court made a historic decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, ending nearly 50 years of constitutional protection for abortion rights. Later that month, Congress ruled on another controversial topic when they made the clarification that the Second Amendment gives citizens the right to carry a firearm outside the home.
In October, the court began a new term with its first Black female justice, Ketanji Brown Jackson, on the bench. The new term started with the court hearing conservative arguments on the nation’s primary anti-water pollution law called the Clean Water Act, which regulates and controls pollutants in U.S. waters.
That same month, the court heard arguments in two affirmative action cases that could challenge and change the role of race in the application process at universities across the U.S.
In December 2021, Time editors selected Musk as the person to have held the most influence on the world in 2021, with Time Editor-In-Chief Edward Felsenthal telling TODAY at the time that Musk “is reshaping life on Earth and possibly life off Earth as well.”
This year, the billionaire topped the Forbes list of the World’s Richest People, and he also purchased Twitter for $44 billion in October after much public back and forth on whether he was going to move forward with the acquisition.
In the aftermath of his takeover, Musk gained criticism as he dismissed several of the company’s top executives, laid off about half of the platform’s 7,500 employees and rolled out a subscription service that allows users to pay for the platform’s oft-coveted blue check of verification.
Following the Jan. 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.
Over the course of the year, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has become a face of democracy on an international scale since Russia’s invasion began.
In a world clouded with information and broadcast overload, Zelenskyy’s daily video updates about the war in his country have urged the world to keep its eyes affixed on the ongoing conflict that continues to unfold in Ukraine.
More than a figure, Zelenskyy’s efforts have taken him to the frontlines of combat. In May, the president visited a battle where Ukrainian and Russian troops fought for control of Donbas, a crucial city located in Ukraine’s eastern region. Months later, in November, he took to the streets with revelers in the Ukrainian city of Kherson to celebrate their relief as Russian troops pulled back from the area.
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.
In November, the billionaire philanthropist also revealed in a Medium post that in this year alone, she has donated nearly $2 billion to 343 organizations focused on the support of underserved communities.
Protesters in Iran
After the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman from the Kurdistan region of Iran, in September, an onslaught of civil unrest and protests against the government of Iran quickly spread throughout the country, as well as worldwide.
At the time of her death, Amini, who was an aspiring lawyer, had been in the custody of the morality police in Iran’s capital, Tehran, who were enforcing mandatory dress code.
After the demonstrations began, the Iranian government implemented restrictions on social media and internet access and implanted internet blackouts in an attempt to quell them.
Still, amongst the dissent, women in Iran refused to cower. Videos show them cutting their hair and burning their head scarves — a show of defiance against the government’s tight grasp over women’s rights and freedoms. Videos of school-aged girls protesting in schoolyards and classrooms have also emerged, signaling an entire generation of unrest to come.
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.
In 2021, Janet Yellen became the first woman to take on the role of secretary of the treasury in U.S. history.
At the start of this year, the economist — who appeared on Time’s list of 100 most influential people in 2017 — announced the U.S. Mint’s first shipment of the American Women Quarters Program. The project puts notable women in U.S. history on the 25-cent piece, which began with a depiction of poet Maya Angelou.
In a year of heightened inflation alarm, the United States leaned on Yellen to interpret the telltale signs of a recession and draw up preemptive domestic and international financial policies.
In the lead-up to the midterms, Yellen traveled the country to instill confidence in the Biden administration and its progress in a post-COVID economy. With midterms in the rearview and presidential elections ahead, Yellen will have to round up the confidence in the Biden administration once again.
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 10 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.