Teenage climate-change activist Greta Thunberg is Time’s “Person of the Year,” the magazine announced Wednesday. At 16, she is the youngest person to be given the title.
The announcement came during NBC’s “Today,” one day after Time revealed that its five-person shortlist for the annual honor also included House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, President Donald Trump, “the Whistleblower” who ignited the impeachment inquiry into Trump, and the Hong Kong protesters.
“Meaningful change rarely happens without the galvanizing force of influential individuals, and in 2019, the earth’s existential crisis found one in Greta Thunberg,” wrote Time’s editor-in-chief and CEO Edward Felsenthal when explaining the decision to give Thunberg the title.
He continued, “For sounding the alarm about humanity’s predatory relationship with the only home we have, for bringing to a fragmented world a voice that transcends backgrounds and borders, for showing us all what it might look like when a new generation leads, Greta Thunberg is Time’s 2019 Person of the Year.”
In 2017, Trump claimed before the reveal of the winner that he “took a pass” on “probably” winning, causing Time to issue a tweet saying, “The President is incorrect about how we choose Person of the Year.”
In November, CNN’s Michael Smerconish encouraged Time to consider those who testified in Trump’s impeachment inquiry hearings when weighing the options for “Person of the Year.”
During an episode of his Saturday show, “Smerconish,” the political analyst and host collectively called the witnesses “diplomats” who had to “put up with attacks,” including by “the president himself.”
Time’s Person of the Year is someone deemed to have had the most significant impact on current events over the last year (and not, per common misunderstanding, a statement of approval for the named person). While the magazine’s editorial board selects Person of the Year, since 1998 it has also held an online reader poll.