US President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris were jointly named Time magazine’s 2020 “Person of the Year” on Thursday, chosen from a list of finalists that included the man Biden vanquished at the polls – President Donald Trump.
The Democratic former vice president and his running mate, a California senator whose election broke gender and racial barriers, together “offered restoration and renewal in a single ticket,” Time said in a profile of the pair, published online with its announcement.
Following the most tumultuous US presidential campaign in modern times, waged in the throes of a deadly pandemic, economic devastation and a strife-torn national reckoning with racism, Biden and Harris prevailed in an election that drew the highest voter turnout in a century.
Time editor-in-chief and CEO Edward Felsenthal credited the victors with succeeding in “an existential debate over what reality we inhabit”.
“For changing the American story, for showing that the forces of empathy are greater than the furies of division, for sharing a vision of healing in a grieving world, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are Time’s 2020 Person of the Year.”
Trump, the 45th US president and Time’s 2016 Person of the Year – so honoured a month after his upset election victory as the Republican nominee that year – was among three other finalists in the running this year, Time said.
The two others, both group candidates, were the healthcare workers battling the Covid-19 pandemic, and participants in the racial justice movement sparked by the May 25 killing of George Floyd, a Black man who died after a white Minneapolis officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
The Person of the Year is usually an individual, but multiple people have been named in the past. The title is one, according to the magazine, signifying “who affected the news or our lives the most, for better, or worse.”
Time began its tradition in 1927. Teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg last year became the youngest individual winner of the accolade.
Biden, 78, who served two terms as vice president to Barack Obama, will become the oldest person to assume the office of US. president when he is sworn in on Jan. 20. Harris will become the first woman, the first Black and the first person of Asian descent to be inaugurated vice president.
Trump, who has continued to espouse baseless claims that the 2020 election was rigged against him and that he is the rightful winner, is not expected to attend the inauguration.
Along with its Person of the Year honour, Time magazine named the Korean pop group BTS as its Entertainer of the Year, and basketball star LeBron James was crowned Athlete of the Year.
The winners and finalists for various categories were due to be feted during a prime-time special television broadcast on NBC on Thursday night.