Snubbing Steve Jobs, Time magazine named The Protester as its 2011 Person of the Year, paying homage to the “spirit of dissent” that toppled dictators in the Middle East and sparked protests like Occupy Wall Street against corruption and inequality in the U.S. and around the world.
“They literally embodied the idea that individual action can bring collective, colossal change,” Time managing editor Richard Stengel said in announcing the Person of the Year today.
The Apple founder was another highly favored contender at Time’s annual Person of the Year debate—he would have been the first dead Person of the Year in the magazine’s history. The debaters also considered bankers, Osama bin Laden, and the Tunisian fruit vendor who helped spark Arab Spring when he set himself on fire.
Picking an abstract Person of the Year isn’t original for Time, though; it’s done so 11 times before since the popular franchise issue made its debut in 1927. There was The American Fighting Man in 1950, The Middle Americans in 1969, and The Whistleblowers in 2002, to name a few.
The Person of the Year is chosen by Time’s editors, but readers also were invited to vote online for their most and least favorites. This year, the readers’ poll pick for most popular, Turkey's Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, also was the least popular, with 122,939 votes for and 180,571 votes against.
Time's pick wasn't that out of step with readers, though; The 99 Percent was third most popular with readers, with 61,388 votes—behind soccer star Lionel Messi.