President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris were collectively chosen as Time’s 2020 Person of the Year on Thursday night.
The honor was announced by Bruce Springsteen during an hourlong TV special on NBC.
Biden was elected the 46th president of the United States in November, defeating incumbent Donald Trump after an especially contentious election season. He served as vice president under Barack Obama, Trump’s predecessor.
“This moment was one of those do-or-die moments,” Biden told the magazine of the outcome of the election. “Had Trump won, I think we would have changed the nature of who we are as a country for a long time.”
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A key part of Biden’s platform was reuniting a divided nation. Four years from now, Biden told Time he hopes people say, “That America was better off and average Americans are better off the day we left than the day we arrived. That’s my objective.”
Harris is the first woman, first Black person and first person of Asian descent to be elected vice president.
“It is one of my responsibilities,” Harris told the magazine of her place in history. “My mother had many sayings. She would say, ‘’Kamala, you may be the first to do many things; make sure you’re not the last.’ Which is why [in my victory speech], I said, ‘I will be the first, but I will not be the last.’ And that’s about legacy. That’s about leaving the door more open than it was when you walked in.”
Thursday marks the first time Time has named a vice president Person of the Year, Time magazine Editor-in-Chief and CEO Edward Felsenthal said during the broadcast.
“The selection of Person of the Year is rarely easy, and this year was far more difficult than most… In Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, we have two individuals whose election mirrored and moved the major stories of this year and whose fates will shape the nation’s role in the world and the future of the American experiment,” Felsenthal said in a statement.
Infectious disease specialist Dr. Anthony Fauci, frontline healthcare workers and Porche Bennett-Bey, Assa Traoré and racial-justice organizers were named Guardians of the Year. They – along with Trump – were finalists for Person of the Year.
Zoom founder and CEO Eric Yuan was named Businessperson of the Year.
Earlier in the day, the magazine named NBA superstar LeBron James as its athlete of the year. James, 35, won his fourth NBA title this season, leading the Los Angeles Lakers past the Miami Heat (a team he won two titles with) in a performance that earned him Finals MVP honors.
James has also been active off the court. His “More Than a Vote” initiative launched over the summer and focused on improving voter turnout and reducing voter suppression in the Black community.
Korean K-Pop band BTS was named Time’s Entertainer of the Year. The magazine cited BTS’ massive global presence amid the pandemic, including leveraging their massive fan base to support causes like Black Lives Matter. The group has become a staple of recent awards shows, performing their flashy No. 1 hit “Dynamite.”
The song in November brought BTS its first Grammy nomination.
The magazine, in partnership with Nickelodeon, announced 15-year-old scientist and inventor Gitanjali Rao as its first-ever Kid of the Year.
The program also included a tribute to the icons who died this year, including NBA Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant, Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek, “Black Panther” star Chadwick Boseman and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Time’s 2019 Person of the Year was climate activist Greta Thunberg.
Contributing: N’Dea Yancey-Bragg and Mark Medina, USA TODAY; The Associated Press