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The Top 10 most fascinating people of 2012

By Jesse Rifkin
On December 3, 2012

Who were the 10 most fascinating people of 2012? Here are my selections.
10.) Jeremy Lin. In January, the New York Knicks even demoted Lin from NBA backup to the lowly Summer League, barely keeping his basketball career alive. Upon starters Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire getting injured, the Knicks grudgingly started Lin. Stunningly, he scored at least 20 points in his first six starts, turning a team losing 11 of its previous 13 games to winning its next seven straight. Within weeks the Harvard graduate, the first Asian-American in the NBA, was a Most Valuable Player award candidate (although the trophy ultimately went to LeBron James).
9.) Rick Santorum. The guy basically disappeared after April, but for two months Santorum was polling either first or second place for the Republican presidential nomination - skyrocketing from eighth place shortly before. Sure, he didn't win. Yet, doesn't it seem America talked more about Santorum during February and March than about Romney during September and October?
8.) Joseph Kony. Head of Lord's Resistance Army and responsible for countless deaths and child enslavements, this fugitive warlord was virtually unrecognized outside his native country of Uganda. In March the nonprofit organization Invisible Children released the half-hour documentary "KONY 2012." The video surpassed 90 million online views, making his face internationally recognized in a bad way.
7.) Miguel Cabrera. In 1967, Carl Yastrzemski led all baseball players in the three major offensive categories: hits, home runs and runs batted in. Nobody ever did again until Detroit Tigers third baseman Cabrera. At season's end, Cabrera was at bat with the San Francisco Giants, one out away from winning the World Series. Surely baseball's best player could spark a Tigers comeback? But Cabrera watched a called third strike blow past him, thus experiencing the highest high and the lowest low in sports - during the very same season.
6.) E.L. James. This middle-aged British housewife wrote "Fifty Shades of Grey" and it's two sequels, the sexualized book trilogy everybody was buzzing about since its April hardcover release. Sales were staggering: it was No. 1 on the USA Today bestselling books list for 20 weeks, shattering the former 16-week record set by "The Hunger Games."
5.) Sheldon Adelson. The Las Vegas casino owner and 12th richest American, worth $20.5 billion dollars, spent more than twice the cash on political causes and candidates as anybody else in the country. Hilariously, all the candidates Adelson spent the most on lost, notably Romney. Even though during Obama's presidency, Adelson made more money than any other person in America. Seriously.
4.) Tim Cook. When visionary Apple CEO and founder Steve Jobs died last year, it seemed Apple would never recover. After Tim Cook took over, what happened shocked everybody: he did better than Jobs! In 2012, Apple sold more iPhones than in the previous two years combined and their market value soared to $625 million, according to Financial Times. Now only one other company in the world is even worth half of Apple: oil company Exxon Mobil.
3.) Peter Higgs. In 1964, physicist Peter Higgs first proposed that an invisible field permeates the entire universe, and particles gain mass by interacting with the field. It's the reason any physical thing is a "thing" and not just air or space. In July a Switzerland science team isolated the long sought-after "Higgs boson," the smallest individual particle of the Higgs field - truly among the greatest scientific feats in history. And Higgs at age 83 was still alive to witness it.
2.) Psy. Real name Park Jae-sang, the South Korean rapper wrote this year's most inescapable song "Gangnam Style," almost entirely sung in Korean. The bizarrely entertaining music video became the most viewed YouTube ever on November 24, merely 132 days after upload. The video it surpassed - the music video for "Baby" by Justin Bieber and Ludacris - had been online for 1009 days, giving it more than a two year head start.
1.) John Roberts. The Supreme Court Chief Justice had been considered a reliable conservative for years, until he switched sides during the highest-stakes Supreme Court case since Bush v. Gore in 2000. By siding with the liberals in a squeaker 5 to 4 decision upholding the biggest, most expensive, and most significant law President Obama passed while president, Roberts cemented his status as America's most important judge. At only 57, it's a status he might potentially retain for decades to come.
 


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