The famed broadcast journalist announced the other nine celebrities on her roster earlier this month, but she waited to reveal the winner of the top spot until her year-end special aired Thursday night on ABC.
"And, finally, our choice for the Most Fascinating Person of the Year was once called the World's Greatest Athlete. Traditionally, that title was given to the man who won the Olympic Decathalon. When Bruce Jenner won it in 1976, it was a huge accomplishment. It had everybody talking, but it was nothing like this," Walters said.
"When Bruce Jenner became Caitlyn Jenner, there was a seismic shift in the gender universe. If you were unable to take your eyes off of Caitlyn Jenner this year, you weren't alone. ... Famous and familiar, she raised awareness and acceptance of transgender people. Through her own transformation, Caitlyn Jenner transformed society this year and that, for us, makes her the Most Fascinating Person of 2015. "
The program included footage of Jenner's sports, celebrity-endorsement and reality TV careers as Bruce, as well as scenes from his recent metamorphosis into Caitlyn, whom Jenner publicly revealed this year at the age of 65. Jenner did not sit for an interview with Walters for the TV special, however.
Also featured on Barbara Walters Presents: The 10 Most Fascinating People of 2015 were Bradley Cooper, Amy Schumer, Tracy Morgan, Ronda Rousey, Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, Misty Copeland, Jeff Bezos and Donna Karan.
Walters' annual Most Fascinating program began airing in 1993.