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TIME Person of the Year

Billionaire inventor Elon Musk has been named TIME’s 2021 Person of the Year. The news was announced on December 13.

“Person of the Year is a marker of influence,” says TIME’s editor in chief, Edward Felsenthal. “And few individuals have had more influence than Musk on life on Earth, and potentially life off Earth too.”

Musk is the founder of the rocket company SpaceX. It’s building a spacecraft that will take astronauts to the moon for the first time since 1972. In September, SpaceX became a leader in civilian space travel with the launch of Inspiration4. Musk is also the CEO of the electric-car company Tesla. Its success has pushed other automakers to build electric vehicles. This could be key to fighting climate change. Robots, cryptocurrency, and solar power are among Musk’s other business interests. “Like it or not, we are now in Musk’s world,” Felsenthal says.

TIME also announced distinctions in three other categories. Heroes of the Year went to four scientists who helped formulate the COVID-19 vaccine: Kizzmekia Corbett, Barney Graham, Katalin Karikó, and Drew Weissman. Their work has helped slow the pandemic and the rise of new variants.

Athlete of the Year was Simone Biles, who brought attention to mental health. Entertainer of the Year was Olivia Rodrigo. She had the most-streamed song on Spotify, and two of her singles debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Stop & Think! WHY does TIME pick a Person of the Year? Why are the other winners important too? Who would you have included on this list?