WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – President Trump says that Time magazine was contemplating naming him the "Person of the Year" for a second year in a row but that he pulled himself out of the running because he didn't want to participate in an interview and photo shoot.
"Time Magazine called to say that I was PROBABLY going to be named 'Man (Person) of the Year,' like last year, but I would have to agree to an interview and a major photo shoot," Trump tweeted on Friday evening. "I said probably is no good and took a pass. Thanks anyway!"
Richard Stengel, a former Time editor, responded by tweeting: "Hate to tell you but that PROBABLY means you're NOT Person of the Year. They just wanted a photo shoot. But I'm sure you still have that fake TIME cover somewhere in storage."
Later Friday evening, Time disputed the president's claim, tweeting that he "is incorrect about how we choose Person of the Year." The magazine said it doesn't comment on its choice until publication, the Associated Press reported.
Contenders for the 2017 honor include Trump's former chief strategist Steve Bannon, singer Ariana Grande, San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, football player Colin Kaepernick, French President Emmanuel Macron, former FBI director James Comey, special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, late-night host Jimmy Kimmel, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, Pope Francis and women who have shared their stories about being sexually harassed or assaulted using the hashtag #MeToo.
Trump has long been obsessed with having his face on the cover of magazines, especially Time magazine, and he has compared himself to a "supermodel, except, like, times 10." Many of his clubs are decorated with many of these covers – including, up until recently, a fake March 2009 Time cover that featured the real estate developer and proclaimed: "TRUMP IS HITTING ON ALL FRONTS . . . EVEN TV!"
In December 2016, Time editors announced they had selected Trump as their "Person of the Year," beating out Hillary Clinton, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, United Kingdom Independence Party leader Nigel Farage, singer Beyoncé, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and whistleblowers in Flint, Mich.
"It means a lot," Trump said in an NBC News interview at the time, "especially me growing up reading Time magazine. And it's a very important magazine, and I've been lucky enough to be on the cover many times this year – and last year. But I consider this a very, very great honor."
The previous year, Trump had been passed over for the honor, which went to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whom the magazine credited with opening her nation's border to hundreds of thousands of refugees and managing Europe's debt crisis. Trump frequently brought up this gripe on the campaign trail.