Obama was selected from a short list that included Marissa Mayer, chief executive officer of Yahoo!; Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi; Undocumented Americans; Bill and Hillary Clinton; Malala Yousafzai, the young Pakistani activist who survived a Taliban assassination attempt; Apple CEO Tim Cook, and Fabiola Giannati, an Italian physicist leading the search for Higgs boson, the so-called "God particle."
In its introduction on Obama, Time wrote the president is "more than just a political figure; he's a cultural one."
"He is the first president to embrace gay marriage and to offer work permits to many young undocumented immigrants," the introduction said. "There has been much talk of the coalition of the ascendant -- young people, minorities, Hispanics, college-educated women -- and in winning re-election, Obama showed that these fast-growing groups are not only the future but also the present."
The weekly news magazine, for 85 years, has selected the person, thing or group its editors decided had the greatest singular impact during the year. Last year's choice was The Protester.