Elon Musk has been named Time magazine’s Person of the Year for 2021.
The CEO of Tesla and SpaceX and the wealthiest person in the world has remained a central figure in the news as he and his businesses continue to frame the future of automobiles and space travel.
“He is reshaping life on Earth and possibly life off Earth as well,” Time Editor-In-Chief Edward Felsenthal said on Monday, December 13, 2021.
In 2021 alone, SpaceX, founded by the South African entrepreneur in 2002, made history in September after completing the first mission to space with an all-civilian crew, which included a childhood cancer survivor.
Beyond participating in what many are calling the “billionaire space race,” Musk’s SpaceX was chosen by NASA in April to build the next-generation lunar lander, beating out two other contenders for a $3 billion contract. He also announced that his company Tesla would continue to make advancements in technology by developing a humanoid robot with artificial intelligence next year dubbed the “Tesla Bot.”
The business magnate is the richest person on the planet according to Forbes with an estimated net worth of $265.4 billion.
“We are in this new gilded age where, like it or not, so much of our lives, even in this moment of incredible inequality, are being shaped by these very wealthy tech leaders,” Felsenthal said on TODAY.
Time’s Person of the Year title, named by the magazine’s editors at the end of each calendar year since its inception in 1927, is not necessarily an award or an honor but is representative of the influence the person or persons had on the news over the previous year.
For 2021’s Heroes of the Year award, Time named the researchers who worked on the COVID-19 vaccines, dubbed “The Miracle Workers.” The cover image features Katalin Karikó, Barney S. Graham, Kizzmekia Corbett, and Drew Weissman, four scientists who made strides during the pandemic to develop multiple vaccines.
Dr. Karikó and Dr. Weissman’s breakthrough with mRNA technology went unnoticed for years, but ultimately pioneered both Pfizer and Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccines. Dr. Corbett and Dr. Graham both played critical roles as a catalyst for the rapid development of multiple COVID-19 vaccines.
Time announced on Dec. 9 its Athlete of the Year and Entertainer of the Year, Simone Biles and Olivia Rodrigo respectively.
Biles — the most decorated gymnast of all time — brought mental health to headlines this summer during the Tokyo Olympics when she withdrew from several events for the preservation of her own mental wellness. In 2021, Rodrigo skyrocketed from Disney Channel star to superstardom, topping the Billboard charts and breaking Spotify records with her debut album “Sour.”
In 2020, Time named then President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris as the magazine’s Person of the Year. The year prior, teenage climate change activist Greta Thunberg received the title.