Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, has been named Time magazine’s “Person of the Year” for 2021.
The magazine announced the wealthiest man in the world as its choice on Monday.
“He is reshaping life on Earth and possibly life off Earth as well,” Edward Felsenthal, Time’s Editor-In-Chief, said on the “TODAY” show Monday.
In Time’s profile of Musk, Felsentahl wrote: “Person of the Year is a marker of influence, and few individuals have had more influence than Musk on life on Earth, and potentially life off Earth too.”
“In 2021, Musk emerged not just as the world’s richest person but also as perhaps the richest example of a massive shift in our society,” he said.
In 2021, Musk’s spaceflight company made history in September after it successfully launched four private passengers into orbit on the first mission to space with an all-civilian crew. And in April, NASA selected SpaceX as one of the space firms to build lunar landing systems that can carry astronauts to the moon by 2024.
On Monday, Time also named the researchers who worked on the Covid-19 vaccine as this year’s heroes of the year. The cover image featured scientists Katalin Kariko, Barney S. Graham, Kizzmekia Corbett and Drew Weissman — all of whom “achieved a breakthrough of singular importance, introducing an innovative and highly effective vaccine platform, based on mRNA, that will impact our health and well-being far beyond this pandemic,” the magazine wrote.
Last Thursday, the magazine gave awards in different categories, including Simone Biles as athlete of the year and Olivia Rodrigo as entertainer of the year.
For nearly a century, the magazine has annually selected a Person of the Year. Last year, Time chose then-President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris for the top spot. And in 2019, then 16-year-old Swedish climate change activist Greta Thunberg received the title.
Time’s annual Person of the Year title, which is chosen by the magazine’s editors at the end of each year, is not necessarily an award, but is representative of the influence the person or persons had on the news over the previous year.
Wilson Wong is a culture and trends reporter for NBC News Digital.