TIMEs most disputed person of the year winners – from Adolf Hitler to Trump

From Adolf Hitler and Donald Trump to Barbie and Taylor Swift, TIME Magazine has certainly had a colorful past of nominees and winners of its annual Person Of The Year.

The past winners have often been controversial and, in some cases, sparked widespread public outcry.

This year’s nominees include the likes of Taylor Swift, Barbie, King Charles III to Hollywood Strikers, Vladimir Putin and Trump prosecutors.

The winner announcement for 2023’s honour is lurking around the corner so with that in mind The Daily Express has decided to look back at some of the magazine’s most controversial winners.

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Adolf Hitler

In 1938 Adolf Hitler landed himself TIME’s Person Of The Year – despite his prolific World War II history.

Arguably the most shocking winner, the magazine justified their choice, explaining: “Hitler became in 1938 the greatest threatening force that the democratic, freedom-loving world faces today.”

The Nazi leader’s aggression in Europe in the late 1930s shocked the region and the wider world, which was still weary from World War I.

In 1938, European leaders sought to appease Hitler as he pushed the region toward another major conflict by allowing him to annex the Sudetenland, a region in what was then Czechoslovakia – he had already annexed Austria earlier in the year.

The efforts to quell Hitler’s imperialistic ambitions ultimately failed, and he launched World War II with Germany’s invasion of Poland in September 1939.

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Joseph Stalin

Another controversial winner was the brutal Joseph Stalin, who was honoured as Time’s Person of the Year in both 1939 and 1942.

The Soviet leader is often remembered as one of the most ruthless authoritarians in history.

Stalin was an influential figure of the era between his brutal, bloody rise to power in Russia as well as his central role in defeating the Nazis during World War II.

“The year 1942 was a year of blood and strength,” Time said of Stalin in early 1943, further adding: “The man whose name means steel in Russian, whose few words of English include the American expression ‘tough guy’ was the man of 1942.”

The latter half of 1942 and the early part of 1943 was a major turning point in the war due to the Soviet victory in the Battle of Stalingrad.

Many historians consider it to be the greatest battle of infamous World War II, as it stopped the German advance on the Eastern front and changed the entire outlook of the war for the Allies.

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Donald Trump

The former president of the US, Donald Trump was named Time’s Person of the Year in 2016.

Donald has faced a wide range of controversies in his time as president, as well as revelations that hit the headlines after his time in office ended, like when stripper Stormy Daniels published a book about their reported 2006 affair.

The magazine justified their choice, saying: “For reminding America that demagoguery feeds on despair and that truth is only as powerful as the trust in those who speak it.

“For empowering a hidden electorate by mainstreaming its furies and live-streaming its fears, and for framing tomorrow’s political culture by demolishing yesterday’s, Donald Trump is Time 2016 Person of the Year.”

Elon Musk

He may not have made a name for himself by being a ruthless World War II leader but Elon Musk was dubbed TIME’s Person Of The Year in 2021.

While he is not necessarily the most controversial winner, the billionaire has faced mass criticism this year from fans over his handing of becoming the owner of Twitter (now called X).

TIME explained their choice, writing: “He is reshaping life on Earth and possibly life off Earth as well,” Felsenthal told TODAY at the time.

Although he has faced challenges this year as the new owner of Twitter, Elon has a net worth of $197.5 billion and is the wealthiest person in the world, according to Forbes.

He is the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, the latter of which made history in 2021 by launching the first space flight with an all-civilian crew.

Richard Nixon

Former US President Richard Nixon was named Time’s Person of the Year for two consecutive years in 1970 and 1971.

Richard was undoubtedly among the most controversial presidents in US history at the time, due to the Watergate scandal, which led to his resignation in 1974 as he faced the prospect of impeachment.

The cover-up and chaotic aftermath overshadowed any good he may have done as president – but nevertheless, he was honored with the title.

When the magazine chose him as Person of the Year for 1971, they discussed his famous visit to communist China and his effort to pull the US out of Vietnam.

But in what was perhaps an unintentionally foreshadowing description, Time also referred to the former politician as “disconcertingly unpredictable.”

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