When The Onion’s editorial board convened to determine its Person of the Year for 2014, the members of our selection committee were in agreement that identifying the individual most worthy of this distinguished honor would be no easy task. Indeed, when faced with reducing hundreds of esteemed innovators, philanthropists, and thought leaders to a single deserving recipient, the selection committee ultimately proved unable to choose just one man or woman who most embodies the values of integrity, benevolence, and courage that define this most prestigious of accolades.
Thus, following weeks of impassioned debate, The Onion is proud to present, for the first time ever, the two co-winners of our Person of the Year award: Pakistani human rights advocate Malala Yousafzai and 12-time WWE champion John Cena.
Over the course of the last year, who could be said to have accomplished more and had a greater impact on the world than these two? Yousafzai: an impassioned defender of women’s rights who has risked her life to campaign for equal education opportunities for girls. Cena: a physically dominant strongman and submission specialist who has ascended to the top of the professional wrestling world through his combination of charisma, athleticism, and devastating finishing moves, such as the “Attitude Adjustment” and the “STFU.”
Truly, no two more outstanding or inspirational figures could be said to exist.
Of course, though equals in the eyes of The Onion, Yousafzai and Cena took markedly different paths to this year’s honor. Yousafzai survived a vicious assassination attempt by a Taliban gunman, battling the odds to surmount her near-fatal injuries and emerging more dedicated than ever to advancing the ideals of equality and freedom. Much as Cena inspires countless millions of wrestling fans across the so-called Cenation, Yousafzai inspires young girls around the globe, even in spite of constant death threats, and earlier this year made history by becoming, at only age 17, the youngest-ever recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.
No less remarkable are the accomplishments of Cena, whose work inside the ring has rightfully earned him praise and respect the world over. Just as Yousafzai survived an assassin’s bullets, the fearless WrestleMania headliner has endured hundreds, if not thousands of suplexes, backbreakers, and steel chair blows to the head, and yet has refused to submit to a three count time and time again. And like the Pakistani activist, Cena also proved his bravery, standing tall in the face of a range of foes every bit as vicious as the Taliban, including Roman Reigns, Brock Lesnar, and Kane. And though Cena’s list of victories is long and illustrious, perhaps no occasion was more heartening than his heroism at this year's Money In The Bank pay-per-view, in which he improbably won the main event ladder match to secure the WWE World Heavyweight Championship belt, a celebrated prize rivaled only by the Nobel committee’s offering.
As stated, the voting process for this year’s award was competitive and impassioned. Faced with two icons of seemingly equal merit—Malala Yousafzai and John Cena—our panel was unable to decide which one was more deserving of our highest honor. Cena or Yousafzai? Just the fourth wrestler in history to win multiple Royal Rumble matches or a relentless crusader for equality and progress? Some choices cannot be made.
And though Cena technically won by a handful of votes, the selection committee ultimately determined that to place one above the other would be a disservice to them, to their legacies, and to you, the reader. Therefore, it is with great pleasure that The Onion presents our Person of the Year award to both humanitarian Malala Yousafzai and wrestler, actor, and rapper John Cena, two sources of inspiration to a world in desperate need of heroes.