The unveiling of TIME’s Person of the Year is less than 24 hours away, and on the Today show Tuesday morning, hosts named the eight frontrunners for this year’s cover. The short list rounds up an elite list of famous names in business, politics and science. It includes Malala Yousafzai, the young Pakistani activist who was shot in the head by the Taliban for her crusade for better girls’ education; U.S. president Barack Obama; Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi; and Bill and Hillary Clinton for their global humanitarian and political activism. Two prominent business leaders also made the cut: Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo!, and Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, along with the Higgs Boson — the particle of the year — and the three scientists who discovered it.
Following last year’s group choice of “The Protester,” the only group to appear on this year’s list is “Undocumented Americans” — a pick that highlights the demographic growth and increasing political power of Latino Americans and the ongoing struggle over U.S. immigration policy.
All eight candidates appeared on TIME’s online reader poll, but none took first place. TIME’s online voters have already revealed their choice for this year’s top newsmaker: Kim Jong Un. More than 5.6 million people voted for the supreme leader of North Korea, although his results and those of other high scorers got a boost from members of Internet forums like 4Chan. While TIME’s editors have the final say and don’t make their selection based on the poll results, “it’s always interesting to see where some of our preferred candidates end up,” says TIME executive editor Radhika Jones.
Each year since 1927, TIME has named a newsmaker of the year: the person that most influenced our world this year – for good or for ill. Last year’s choice, The Protester, came out on top of runners-up including the newly minted Duchess of Cambridge and Chinese dissident Ai Weiwei. The choice is always kept under tight wraps until the minute the magazine cover is unveiled. TIME managing editor Rick Stengel will reveal this year’s Person of the Year Wednesday, Dec. 19 on NBC’s Today show at 7 a.m.