Essential workers—the nurses, doctors, delivery people, grocery-store employees and many others who continue to risk their lives on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic—have won TIME’s 2020 Person of the Year reader poll.
These heroes won with 6.5% of the more than 8 million votes cast in this year’s poll, which asked readers to select the person or group of people who had the greatest influence on 2020. Essential workers beat out some 80 other candidates, including famed figures like President Donald Trump, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Pope Francis, for readers’ top pick.
This year’s reader poll results also highlighted several other figures and groups who stood out during an unprecedented and grueling year.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who emerged as a trusted figure amid COVID-19 misinformation, came in second with 5% of the vote. Fauci has been on the receiving end of President Trump’s public wrath as he raised the alarm about the U.S.’s failure to contain the virus, and continues to be one of the most authoritative voices in the country on combating COVID-19.
Firefighters came in third place with 4.3% of the vote, having repeatedly risked their lives to battle historic wildfires all over the world this year, from Australia to the Western United States. The Black Lives Matter activists who led and inspired global demonstrations against systemic racism and police brutality after the killings of several Black Americans including George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, followed closely with 4% of votes.
U.S. President-elect Joe Biden, who beat President Trump in a historic election that saw record-breaking turnout, garnered 3.8% of votes, coming in fifth.
TIME editors ultimately decide who is selected as the Person of the Year. TIME will reveal this year’s pick on time.com and in the first-ever “TIME Person of the Year” television special on NBC, on Dec. 10 at 10 p.m. ET.
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