Trump tweeted that TIME asked him to do an interview and photo shoot because he was “probably” going to get the gong for the second year running, but he declined because “probably” wasn’t good enough for him.
But former TIME journalists soon responded, casting doubts on the president’s version of events.
The magazine’s former managing editor Richard Stengel tweeted the following response:
James Poniewozik, a journalist who wrote a column for TIME for 15 years, said Trump was likely just setting up to be able to claim “I didn’t want it” when he isn’t picked.
TIME eventually issued its own response.
Trump was named Person of the Year in 2016, after his shock win in the U.S. presidential election.
“For nearly 17 months on the campaign trail, Trump did what no American politician had attempted in a generation, with defiant flair,” TIME wrote in 2016. “Instead of painting a bright vision for a unified future, he magnified the divisions of the present, inspiring new levels of anger and fear within his country.”
“Whatever you think of the man, this much is undeniable: he uncovered an opportunity others didn’t believe existed, the last, greatest deal for a 21st century salesman.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel was recognized in 2015, a decision that Trump clearly disagreed with.
The prior year, in 2014, Trump retweeted a comment from a Twitter user who opined that TIME should pick Trump as Person of the Year because “we need you in 2016.”
Trump does feature in this year’s shortlist of some 33 candidates, which includes the likes of Hillary Clinton, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Russian President Vladimir Putin, North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong-Un, disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein and NFL player and activist Colin Kaepernick.
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The only person to receive the recognition in consecutive years was also a Republican president — Richard Nixon in 1971 and 1972, back when the award was called Man of the Year or Woman of the Year.
The tradition began in 1927, with Charles Lindbergh named Man of the Year for becoming the first person to fly a plane solo across the Atlantic Ocean.
In recent years, readers have been invited to cast their votes online, although TIME‘s editors make the final call.