After a voting campaign that reached millions of sports fans across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, the fans have spoken. Michael Phelps capping off his storied career at the London 2012 Summer Olympics is Sports Illustrated’s 2012 Moment of The Year. Phelps will appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated’s year-end issue— the second time in the 58-year history of Sports Illustrated that the choice for the cover of the magazine has been made by fans. Last year’s 2011 Fans’ Choice was the return of Rutgers football player Eric LeGrand—one year after he was paralyzed from the neck down in a game vs. Army at Giants Stadium. This will be the eighth time Phelps has appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated and he was also named SI Sportsman of The Year in 2008. The issue is dated Dec. 31, 2012, and hits newsstands today (Wednesday). To download a high resolution JPEG of the cover click here.
For over one week, from Dec. 6–14, fans could visit a custom tab on Sports Illustrated’s Facebook page to rank their top five choices, knowing that the winning moment would appear on the Dec. 31 cover. In the end, Phelps beat out a future Hall of Fame quarterback (Peyton Manning), an all-around Olympic gold medal gymnast (Gabby Douglas) and a Jamaican sprinter widely regarded as the fastest person ever (Usain Bolt), who were among 15 iconic moments that fans could choose from. Below is a list of the top five first-place vote getters:
Top 5 Moments:
1. Phelps Caps a Storied Career — 21%
2. Gabby Strikes Gold — 19%
3. Peyton Manning Returns — 12%
4. Bolt Races into History — 12%
5. The San Francisco Giants Reign in the Rain — 8%
At the London 2012 Summer Olympics, Phelps won gold in the 100-meter butterfly, 200-meter medley and was on the winning 400-meter medley and 800-meter freestyle relay teams. He was also earned silver in the 200-meter butterfly and 400-meter freestyle relay. He finished his unprecedented career as the most decorated Olympian of all time — capturing a record 18 golds and 22 overall medals in three Olympics.