'Time' Magazine Names Controversial Figure 2021 Person of the Year

Elon Musk has been named TIME Magazine's Person of the Year for 2021. The CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, who is also the wealthiest person in the world, was handed the honor for "creating solutions to an existential crisis, for embodying the possibilities and the perils of the age of tech titans, for driving society's most daring and disruptive transformations," Time editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal wrote.

In a profile announcing this year's recipient of the coveted honor, Felsenthal noted that Person of the Year goes to "the individual or group who most shaped the previous 12 months, for better or for worse" and is a "marker of influence." Of Musk, Felsenthal wrote, "few individuals have had more influence than Musk on life on Earth, and potentially life off Earth too." Felsenthal noted that Musk "emerged not just as the world's richest person but also as perhaps the richest example of a massive shift in our society" in 2021, adding that "even in that rarefied crowd, Musk is in a class of his own. He sees his mission as solving the globe's most intractable challenges, along the way disrupting multiple industries across two decades."

TIME's profile of Musk not only recounts Musks' endeavors or the past several years, but also focuses on the past 12 months. In 2021, SpaeX made history after completing the first mission to space with an all-civilian crew. It also shined some light on Tesla, which the profile called "Musk's largest terrestrial impact," sharing that 2021 was the year that electric vehicles finally came into the mainstream and that Tesla became a trillion-dollar company."

"In deciding each December who should be Person of the Year, we look back but also aim to look forward. Bezos was the choice in 1999 when e-commerce was just beginning to take off. Zuckerberg was selected in 2010, well before it was clear what Facebook's full effect on society and democracy would be," the profile continued. "We don't yet know how fully Tesla, SpaceX and the ventures Musk has yet to think up will change our lives. At 50, he has plenty of time to write the future, his own and ours. Like it or not, we are now in Musk's world."

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Musk being named the 2021 Person of the Year comes after President Joe Biden and First Lady Kamala Harris were named TIME's Person of the Year in 2020, making marked the first time the title had been bestowed upon a vice president as well as a president. For 2021's Heroes of the Year award, TIME named the researchers who worked on the COVID-19 vaccines, dubbed "The Miracle Workers."