More than half a million votes were cast in the 2019 TIME for Kids Person of the Year poll. Read on to learn about the winner and to see who came in second and third place.
First Place: José Andrés
COOKING UP CHANGE The votes are in! TIME for Kids readers have chosen chef José Andrés as the winner of the 2019 TFK Person of the Year poll.
Andrés founded World Central Kitchen (WCK), a nonprofit group that has provided millions of meals to the survivors of disasters and other emergencies. He believes a good meal can change the world.
Most disaster-relief agencies focus on delivering the basics. Often, they give out prepackaged food. But as a world-class chef, Andrés does things differently. WCK meals are fresh and tasty. When TFK interviewed Andrés for an October cover story, he explained why: “A hot meal represents love.”
In September, Andrés and his team sprang into action when the Bahamas were devastated by Hurricane Dorian. It was the strongest storm to ever hit the islands. To date, WCK has served more than 2 million meals there.
In October, when wildfires rocked California, WCK was on the ground just 36 hours later. The team served people who were forced to evacuate their homes as well as firefighters battling the blazes.
Andrés’s current effort is in Albania. A major earthquake hit the European country in November. WCK is feeding people whose homes were destroyed. —By Shay Maunz
Runner-Up: The Octochamps
SPELLING SUPERSTARS Eight kids won the Scripps National Spelling Bee and changed the game for future competitors. On May 30, the soon-to-be Octochamps spelled perfectly, round after round. It’s often said contestants compete against the dictionary. “You are showing the dictionary who’s boss,” pronouncer Jacques Bailly told the finalists. Judges ran out of tough words and declared all eight kids winners. On December 10, Scripps announced that contest rules will change due to this outcome. —By Allison Singer
Third Place: Boyan Slat
OCEAN PROTECTOR Boyan Slat is a Dutch inventor. He founded The Ocean Cleanup in 2013, when he was 18. He created a system that traps plastic so it can be removed from the ocean. It is collecting trash in an area of the Pacific Ocean called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. On October 26, Slat unveiled new technology called the Interceptor. He says it will clean plastic from rivers, stopping the waste “from reaching the oceans in the first place.” Interceptors are working in Indonesia and Malaysia. —By Karena Phan