Time Magazine on Monday announced its pick for 2021 Person of the Year — Elon Musk, the richest person in the world and the chief executive of both Tesla and SpaceX.
“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,” Time editor-in-chief and CEO Edward Felsenthal said in a statement.
Musk — who’s worth some $266 billion — has had a breakout year that’s seen him add more than $100 billion to that fortune and steal the title of world’s wealthiest person from rival Jeff Bezos.
When Musk passed Bezos in net worth, he said he’d send the Amazon founder a silver medal.
Beyond the boom in Musk’s wealth, Time said it gave Musk the award because 2021 saw the ultra-billionaire make historic strides in his space-faring ambitions and saw his influence expand beyond Silicon Valley into the world of pop culture.
In April, SpaceX won NASA’s exclusive contract to return US astronauts to the moon for the first time since 1972, and his company has since fended off legal challenges for the contract from Bezos’ Blue Origin.
And in May, the company’s massive Starship rocket, which Musk intends to use to send people and cargo to Mars one day, launched and successfully landed for the first time, a major achievement for SpaceX, which wants to make its rockets reusable to lower the cost of space exploration.
While Blue Origin and fellow billionaire Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic have nabbed headlines for sending their billionaire owners briefly into space, Musk’s company one-upped its rivals by sending a billionaire and his guests deep into orbit for days.
As SpaceX hit milestones, Musk roiled markets in the nascent cryptocurrency space by touting bitcoin and other, tiny cryptocurrencies like dogecoin.
In May, Musk hosted “Saturday Night Live” where he announced that he has Asperger’s and spoke about sending dogecoin “to the moon.” Though the appearance was more of a sell-the-news event for investors, who sent the value of dogecoin lower after his appearance on the show.
To be sure, the year hasn’t been without turbulence for the outspoken CEO. Tesla has been hit by several lawsuits from former employees who have alleged racism and sexual harassment at the company’s Fremont factory.
Musk has also sworn off many of his possessions and sold most of his mansions. He now lives in Texas — where he’ll save billions on the Lone Star State’s lack of a personal income tax — and he’s also moved Tesla’s corporate headquarters to the state.
Also in 2021, Musk separated from his girlfriend, Grimes, the mother of his seventh child, as Page Six exclusively reported at the time.