Angela Merkel named Time's Person of the Year

Time Magazine named German chancellor Angela Merkel its Person of the Year for 2015 on Wednesday, revealing her image on the cover of its upcoming issue next to the title "Chancellor of the Free World."

Merkel, 61, is the first woman to receive the honor by herself in two decades. The magazine cited her leadership in the refugee crisis, and for helping keep the Euro afloat.

Editor Nancy Gibbs said Time chose the world leader "for asking more of her country than most politicians would dare, for standing firm against tyranny as well as expedience and for providing steadfast moral leadership in a world where it is in short supply."

Time also cited Merkel's strong response to Russian President "Vladimir Putin's creeping theft of Ukraine."

The seven other finalists for 2015 included Donald Trump, Islamic State leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, Caitlyn Jenner, the Black Lives Matter protest movement, Putin, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Uber's CEO, Travis Kalanick.

"I told you (at)TIME Magazine would never pick me as person of the year despite being the big favorite," Trump tweeted soon after Time's announcement. "They picked person who is ruining Germany."

Merkel is just the fourth woman since 1927 to be chosen and the first since opposition leader Corazon C. Aquino of the Philippines in 1986. She is the first German since Willy Brandt, the West German chancellor named in 1970 for "seeking to bring about a fresh relationship between East and West" during the Cold War. In 1999, Time picked the German-born Albert Einstein as Person of the Century.

Wednesday's news came in as Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert was leading a government press conference in the German capital, while Merkel herself was at an event in Leipzig. When asked about it by The Associated Press, Seibert said he had only just received word on his phone himself.

"I'm sure the chancellor will regard this as an encouragement for her political work, for a good future for Germany as well as for Europe," Seibert said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.