Apple's Tim Cook could be named Time magazine's 2014 Person of the Year after becoming the first openly gay Fortune 500 CEO, driving his company’s stock to new heights and introducing the Apple Watch wearable device this year.
Cook was revealed as one of eight finalists for the distinction, which is given every year to the person on the globe who Time’s editors felt most influenced events that year. Cook made waves in October when he acknowledged his sexual orientation publicly for the first time in an essay for Bloomberg Businessweek.
"I don’t consider myself an activist, but I realize how much I’ve benefited from the sacrifice of others. So if hearing that the CEO of Apple is gay can help someone struggling to come to terms with who he or she is, or bring comfort to anyone who feels alone, or inspire people to insist on their equality, then it’s worth the trade-off with my own privacy," Cook wrote.
In 2014, Cook led Apple stock to a company record $119 per share while introducing several new products, most notably the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. The new iPhones sold more than 10 million units in their first weekend, setting a company record. Cook also announced the Apple Watch, a smartwatch that will go on sale early next year. The watch is noteworthy for being Apple's first wearable gadget and the first new product line introduced since the death of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs in 2011.
Jobs was famously passed over for the Person of the Year distinction in 1982 when the magazine instead chose the computer as Machine of the Year.
Cook's competition is Russian President Vladimir Putin, singer Taylor Swift, Alibaba CEO Jack Ma, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Iraqi Kurdistan President Masoud Barzani, the Ferguson protesters and the Ebola caregivers. The 2014 Time Person of the Year will be announced Wednesday morning.