Barbara Walters named Caitlyn Jenner the Most Fascinating Person of 2015 on her show, 10 Most Fascinating People, which aired on the ABC network on Thursday, December 17.
The 86-year-old television legend credited Jenner, 66, for creating a "seismic shift in the gender universe" and praised the former athlete for her very public gender-transitioning journey this year.
"Through her own transition, Caitlyn Jenner transformed society this year," Walters said as she reached the conclusion of her television special. "And that, for us, makes her the most fascinating person of 2015."
Walters was initially irreverent in her discussions of Jenner's contributions to 2015, mocking her "heroic feats involving hair extensions and eye makeup" on the show, I Am Cait.
But having gently ribbed the former Olympian, Walters became more serious.
Not only had Jenner become a "lightning rod for criticism" during her process, she had also become "a champion for people who had long been pushed to the margin of society," Walters added, leading to more general “awareness and acceptance of transgender people.”
Jenner beat out fellow fascinating people Bradley Cooper, Amy Schumer, Misty Copeland, Bernie Sanders, Donna Karan, Ronda Rousey, Jeff Bezos, Donald Trump and Tracy Morgan to the ultimate title.
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