Donald Trump is Time’s person of the year for 2016, the magazine’s editor announced Wednesday morning on NBC’s “Today” show.
“When have we ever seen a single individual who has so defied expectations, broken the rules, violated norms, beaten not one but two political parties on the way to winning an election that he entered with 100-1 odds against him,” Time managing editor Nancy Gibbs said. “I don’t think we have ever seen one person operating in such an unconventional way have an impact on the events of the year quite like this.”
The Time magazine cover announcing Trump as its person of the year shows him seated in a chair and bills him as “president of the divided states of America.” But the president-elect, who spoke to “Today” via telephone after Gibbs, refused to take the blame for dividing the country.
“When you say divided states of America, I didn’t divide them. They’re divided now. I mean, there’s a lot of division,” he said. “And we’re going to put it back together and we’re going to have a country that’s very well healed and we’re going to be a great economic force and we’re going to build up our military and safety and we’re going to do a lot of great things. And it’s going to be something very special.”
“I think putting divided is snarky. But again, it’s divided. I’m not president yet. So I didn’t do anything to divide,” he added later.
Trump complained last year that he had not been selected as Time’s person of the year for 2015, when he finished in third place behind German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The Manhattan billionaire took to Twitter upon the announcement, writing that “I told you @TIME magazine would never pick me as person of the year despite being the big favorite. They picked person who is ruining Germany.”
On Wednesday, Trump told NBC that winning the 2016 person of the year award was “a tremendous honor.”
Gibbs said 2016 “may have been one of the more straightforward years” in terms of selecting a person of the year, with Trump the obvious choice. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, the first female presidential nominee of a major political party and the likely winner of the popular vote, was the magazine’s runner-up person of the year. Hackers, taken as a group, came in third after an election cycle in which cyberattacks played an outsize role.
“The person of the year, as we always remind people, is the person who has had the greatest influence on events, for better or for worse,” Gibbs said. “The fascinating thing this year is, I’ve never seen so much agreement over who had the most influence or the most disagreement over whether it was for better or for worse.”