Top 10 Most Powerful People in the World (2020)
Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Most Powerful People in the World (2020).
For this list, we’ll be looking at politicians, philanthropists, and other powerful figures who had an enormous impact on 2020… for better or for worse.
Who do you think was the most powerful person of 2020? Let us know in the comments.
#10: Mark Zuckerberg
Facebook remains one of the most prominent social networking services and its co-founder/chairman/CEO has cemented his status as a Big Tech giant. Big Tech, in general, has raised concerns about fake news, data mining, and the fate of humanity in general! Granted, Facebook did provide a platform for people to connect during a year dominated by social distancing. Unfortunately, many continued to use Facebook to spread baseless conspiracy theories. In response to Twitter’s decision to introduce fact-checking labels, Zuckerberg stated in May, “I don’t think that Facebook or internet platforms in general should be arbiters of truth.” In September, however, Zuckerberg announced that Facebook would take “additional steps” to “fight misinformation”.
#9: Narendra Modi
India is the world’s second-most populous country, and its Prime Minister is one of the most popular politicians. That’s not to say Narendra Modi hasn’t received criticism, especially when it comes to his relationship with Muslims. Modi has been accused of pushing a Hindu nationalist agenda, making him a divisive figure, to say the least. Despite once again making Time magazine’s list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World, the outlet wrote, “almost all of India’s Prime Ministers have come from the nearly 80% of the population that is Hindu, only Modi has governed as if no one else matters.” Nevertheless, Modi’s approval ratings remain high and in 2020, he officially became the country’s longest-serving prime minister outside of the Indian National Congress.
#8: Larry Page
As of November 2020, Larry Page’s net worth is a towering $78.1 billion, making him the 7th richest person in the world. Being the co-founder of Google and former CEO of Alphabet, it’s no secret how Page made his vast fortune. Although Google has been a go-to search engine for over two decades, it was especially significant in a year like this. According to TechJury, “In 2020, there are 6.9 billion searches on Google every day.” That just goes to show how much Page has changed the information technology industry and, in due course, the world. While he might not be as charismatic as Tony Stark, Page is one of the few real-life figures who deserve to be used in the same sentence.
#7: Bill Gates
With a net worth of almost $120 billion, the Microsoft co-founder has transformed the tech world, as well as the world in general. Technology aside, Gates has been one of 2020’s most talked-about individuals for several reasons. He was one of the most high-profile figures who predicted that the world wasn’t prepared for a pandemic, which came to fruition this year. Due to his 2015 premonition, Gates has been the target of numerous bizarre conspiracy theories. In reality, the self-made billionaire has actually done a lot of good during this difficult time. While Gate wishes that he’d taken greater measures to prevent the pandemic, his foundation has dedicated $300 million towards combating COVID.
#6: Jeff Bezos
If there’s one person who can give Bill Gates a run for his money - quite literally - it’s the founder/president/CEO of Amazon. The world’s richest person, Jeff Bezos also owns The Washington Post and Blue Origin. Bezos was especially prominent in a year where many consumers did their shopping through Amazon rather than flock to a crowded retailer. According to Forbes, Bezos’ net worth skyrocketed by over $70bn during the coronavirus pandemic. That said, Bezos was also the subject of much controversy, given how Amazon reportedly treated its warehouse workers through this strenuous period. Bezos has also been accused of being “stingy” in the past, although he did give $100 million to food banks via Feeding America in the midst of the pandemic.
#5: Donald Trump
In 2020, US President Donald Trump faced the crisis of his political career with the Covid-19 pandemic. The fate of the nation rode on his response. By November, the US had surpassed 11 million cases. Trump has given himself an A+, while critics have accused him of politicizing masks and undermining health recommendations. Amid civil unrest over racial injustice, he’s also been accused of deepening divisions. American voters subsequently chose Joe Biden as America’s next President. However, Trump has continued to make headlines, refusing to concede and spreading conspiracy theories online. Even when he leaves office on January 20, 2021, he certainly won’t disappear, what with his massive following. There’s already talk of a Trump TV network!
#4: Pope Francis
In an era where many are resistant to change, Pope Francis is the (relatively) progressive leader that the Catholic Church has needed. Ever since his papacy began in 2013, Francis has pushed for the Church to be more accepting of women and the LGBTQ+ community. He even expressed support for same-sex unity in 2020. When the coronavirus pandemic hit, Francis encouraged others to be considerate of the needy. Discussing a potential vaccine, the Pope stated, “If anyone should be given preference, let it be the poorest, the most vulnerable, those who so often experience discrimination because they have neither power nor economic resources.” Given the worsening effects of climate change, Francis’ second encyclical, “Laudato si',” is especially relevant when it comes to inspiring a better tomorrow.
#3: Angela Merkel
Angela Merkel is the Chancellor of Germany, but she’s so much more than that. Being the European Union’s de facto leader, Merkel is undoubtedly the world’s most powerful woman. Several media outlets have even dubbed her the “leader of the free world”. During her tenure, she’s spoken up for renewable energy, humane immigration policies, and something that’s become increasingly scarce in the modern political landscape: compassion. In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, Merkel called the crisis the European Union’s “biggest test since its foundation.” Merkel has generally been praised for her honesty, calm demeanor, and knowledge of science throughout the pandemic, serving as a role model that other world leaders could take notes from.
#2: Vladimir Putin
Whether he’s changing the constitution to stay in power, or riding shirtless on a bear through Donald Trump’s dreams, Putin is a towering figure in international politics. Outside of his native Russia, his political reach extends into Europe, the Middle East, and of course U.S. elections. Numerous outlets, including CNN, Newsweek, and the Atlantic, have accused Putin of being a threat to American democracy. .. although his legendary bromance with Trump wasn’t enough to secure the U.S. president a second term. Putin, however, is still very much in power. Between 2013 and 2016, the Russian president was consecutively voted the most powerful person in the world. He might have gotten our vote for 2020’s most powerful person if it weren’t for one other figure…
Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable - and dishonorable - mentions
Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud
The Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia
The Media Mogul Behind Fox News & Hundreds of Other Outlets
President of France
Jerome H. Powell
Chair of the Federal Reserve
The Future Ruler of Mars?
#1: Xi Jinping
If China becomes the world’s number one superpower, it’ll be thanks to Xi Jinping. As the President of the People’s Republic of China, the Chairman of the Central Military Commission, and General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, he’s at the forefront of the world’s most populous country and its second-largest economy. With a firm grip on power, Xi has been the driving force behind the nation’s aggressive foreign policies and domestic reforms. In fact, his thoughts are now part of the party and state constitutions. He’s also significantly expanded China’s influence abroad. Oh, and he’s not afraid to enforce censorship. So, in the event you ever meet Xi in person, we’d advise against calling him Winnie the Pooh.