Alternative History

Person of the Year (formerly Man of the Year) is an annual issue of the United States news magazine Time that features and profiles a man, woman, couple, group, idea, place, or machine that "for better or for worse, ...has done the most to influence the events of the year."


The tradition of selecting a Man of the Year began in 1927, with Time editors contemplating newsworthy stories possible during a slow news week. The idea was also an attempt to remedy the editorial embarrassment earlier that year for not having aviator Charles Lindbergh on its cover following his historic trans-Atlantic flight. By the end of the year, it was decided that a cover story featuring Lindbergh as the Man of the Year would serve both purposes.

Since then, a person, group of people, and in two special cases, an invention and the planet Earth, has been selected for the special year end issue. In 1999, the title was changed to Person of the Year in an effort to be more inclusive, and avoid purportedly sexist phraseology. However, the only women to win the renamed recognition so far were those recognized as The Whistleblowers (2002) and Melinda Gates (jointly with Bill Gates and Bono in 2005). Four women were granted the title when it was still Man of the Year: Wallis Simpson in 1936, Soong May-ling (Madame Chiang Kai-shek) in 1937, Queen Elizabeth II in 1952, and Corazon Aquino in 1986. Nevertheless, women would also be included in several groups, namely Hungarian Freedom Fighter in 1956, U.S. scientists in 1960, Twenty-Five and Under in 1966, The Middle Americans in 1969, American Women in 1975, The American Soldier in 2003, and You in 2006.

Since the list began, every serving President of the United States has been a Person of the Year at least once with the exceptions of Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover (the presidents who were in office at the time of the first issue and the term immediately following it, respectively) and Gerald Ford.

The December 31, 1999, issue of Time named Albert Einstein the Person of the Century. Franklin D. Roosevelt and Mahatma Gandhi were chosen as runners-up.

Franklin D. Roosevelt is the only person to have received the title 3 times - in 1932, 1934 and 1941.


Despite the magazine's frequent statements to the contrary, the designation is often regarded as an honor, and spoken of as an award or prize, simply based on many previous selections of admirable people. However Time magazine points out those such as Adolf Hitler in 1938, and Joseph Stalin in 1939 and again in 1942, and the Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979, have also been granted the title.

In 1998, professional wrestler Mick Foley led the online poll to be voted Time Man of the Year however he was removed as a candidate after Time felt he had not done enough to deserve the accolade.

As a result of the public backlash it received from the United States for naming the Ayatollah Khomeini Man of the Year in 1979, Time has shied away from using figures that are controversial in the United States. Time's Person of the Year 2002—immediately following the September 11, 2001 attacks—was New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani, although the rules of selection, the individual or group of individuals who have had the biggest effect on the year's news, made Osama bin Laden a more likely choice. The issue that declared Giuliani the Person of the Year included an article that mentioned Time's earlier decision to elect the Ayatollah Khomeini and the 1999 rejection of Hitler as Person of the Century. The article seemed to imply that Osama bin Laden was a stronger candidate than Giuliani, as Adolf Hitler was a stronger candidate than Albert Einstein. The selections were ultimately based on what the magazine describes as who they believed had a stronger influence on history.

Another criticized choice was the 2006 selection of You, representing most if not all people for advancing the information age by using the Internet (via blogs, YouTube, MySpace and Wikipedia). Slate labeled the selection as just stupid; however, several other selections have contained large groups, if more discriminate.

Persons of the Year[]

List of Past/Present Persons of the Year[]

Year Choice Lifetime Notes
1927 Charles Lindbergh 1902–1974 First and youngest single person chosen
1928 Walter Chrysler 1875–1940
1929 Owen D. Young 1874–1962
1930 Mahatma Gandhi 1869–1948 First Indian and first non-American person chosen
1931 Pierre Laval 1883–1945 First European chosen
1932 Franklin D. Roosevelt 1882–1945 First president chosen
1933 Hugh Samuel Johnson 1882–1942
1934 Franklin D. Roosevelt 1882–1945 2nd time chosen
1935 Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia 1892–1975 First monarch chosen; First African chosen
1936 Wallis Simpson 1896–1986 First woman chosen
1937 Chiang Kai-shek
Soong May-ling
First couple chosen
1938 Adolf Hitler 1889–1945
1939 Joseph Stalin 1878–1953
1940 Winston Churchill 1874–1965
1941 Franklin D. Roosevelt 1882–1945 3rd time chosen
1942 Joseph Stalin 1878–1953 2nd time chosen
1943 George Marshall 1880–1959
1944 Dwight D. Eisenhower 1890–1969
1945 Harry S. Truman 1884–1972
1946 James F. Byrnes 1879–1972
1947 George Marshall 1880–1959 2nd time chosen
1948 Harry S. Truman 1884–1972 2nd time chosen
1949 Winston Churchill 1874–1965 Man of the Half-Century; 2nd time chosen
1950 The American Fighting-Man Representing Korean War troops; first abstract chosen
1951 Mohammed Mossadegh 1882–1967 First Middle Eastern
1952 Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom b. 1926
1953 Konrad Adenauer 1876–1967
1954 John Foster Dulles 1888–1959
1955 Harlow Curtice 1893–1962
1956 Hungarian Freedom Fighter Abstract choice
1957 Nikita Khrushchev 1894–1971
1958 Charles de Gaulle 1890–1970
1959 Dwight D. Eisenhower 1890–1969 2nd time chosen
1960 U.S. Scientist's Represented by George Beadle, Charles Draper, John Enders, Donald A. Glaser, Joshua Lederberg, Willard Libby, Linus Pauling, Edward Purcell, Isidor Rabi, Emilio Segrè, William Shockley, Edward Teller, Charles Townes, James Van Allen, and Robert Woodward
1961 John F. Kennedy 1917–1963
1962 Pope John XXIII 1881–1963 First Pope chosen
1963 Martin Luther King, Jr. 1929–1968
1964 Lyndon B. Johnson 1908–1973
1965 William Westmoreland 1914–2005
1966 The Generation Twenty-Five and Under (Baby Boomers) Abstract choice
1967 Lyndon B. Johnson 1908–1973 2nd time chosen
1968 The Apollo 8 astronauts William Anders, Frank Borman, and Jim Lovell
1969 The Middle Americans (United States) Abstract choice
1970 Willy Brandt 1913–1992
1971 Richard Nixon 1913–1994
1972 Richard Nixon 1913–1994 2nd time chosen
Henry Kissinger b. 1923
1973 John Sirica 1904–1992
1974 King Faisal of Saudi Arabia 1906–1975
1975 American women Represented by Susan Brownmiller, Kathleen Byerly, Alison Cheek, Jill Conway, Betty Ford]], Ella Grasso]], Carla Hills, Barbara Jordan, Billie Jean King, Carol Sutton, Susie Sharp, and Addie Wyatt
1976 Jimmy Carter b. 1924
1977 Anwar Sadat 1918–1981
1978 Deng Xiaoping 1904–1997
1979 Ayatollah Khomeini 1902–1989
1980 Ronald Reagan 1911–2004
1981 Lech Wałęsa b. 1943
1982 The Computer Machine of the Year; first non-human chosen; abstract choice
1983 Ronald Reagan 1911–2004 2nd time chosen
Yuri Andropov 1914–1984
1984 Peter Ueberroth b. 1937
1985 Deng Xiaoping 1904–1997 2nd time chosen; Oldest person chosen (aged 81)
1986 Corazon C. Aquino b. 1933
1987 Mikhail Gorbachev b. 1931
1988 The Endangered Earth Planet of the Year; 2nd non-human chosen; abstract choice
1989 Mikhail Gorbachev b. 1931 Man of the Decade; 2nd time chosen
1990 George H. W. Bush b. 1924 Bush was referred to as The Two George Bushes — this is not a reference to George W. Bush]] but to how George H.W. Bush was complimented for international affairs and criticized for domestic affairs, including his quote, "Read my lips: no new taxes."
1991 Ted Turner b. 1938
1992 Bill Clinton b. 1946
1993 The Peacemakers Represented by Yasser Arafat, F.W. de Klerk, Nelson Mandela, and Yitzhak Rabin
1994 Pope John Paul II 1920–2005 2nd Pope chosen
1995 Newt Gingrich b. 1943
1996 David Ho b. 1952
1997 Andy Grove b. 1936
1998 Bill Clinton b. 1946 2nd time chosen
Kenneth Starr b. 1946
1999 Jeffrey P. Bezos b. 1964
2000 George W. Bush b. 1946 First winner to be a relative of a former winner
2001 Rudolph Giuliani b. 1944
2002 The Whistleblowers Represented by Cynthia Cooper, WorldCom; Coleen Rowley, FBI; and Sherron Watkins, Enron
2003 The American Soldier Abstract choice; 2nd time chosen
2004 George W. Bush b. 1946 2nd time chosen
2005 The Good Samaritans Represented by Bono, Bill Gates, and Melinda Gates
2006 You Abstract choice; A salute to the individual content creator on the World Wide Web
2007 Vladimir Putin b. 1952
2008 The '08 Candidates Abstract choice; A salute to McCain and Obama and all the other "colorful" candidates

| 2009 | John McCain | | b. 1936 |- |}