The title is given to “the person or persons who most affected the news and our lives, for good or ill, and embodied what was important about the year,” according to the magazine’s editors.
In its announcement, the TIME said the Ebola fighters were "the ones who answered the call," referring to the deadliest Ebola outbreak in history that has claimed more than 6,300 lives since the first known case of the current outbreak in Guinea in last December, according to official figures.
"The rest of the world can sleep at night because a group of men and women are willing to stand and fight. For tireless acts of courage and mercy, for buying the world time to boost its defenses, for risking, for persisting, for sacrificing and saving,” said Nancy Gibbs, TIME’s managing editor.
The 2014 outbreak ravaged countries in western Africa and is noted for its unprecedented magnitude. It was also the first large-scale Ebola outbreak to demonstrate the potential for the virus to spread beyond Africa – a risk raised by the ease and high rate of international travel.
Following the Ebola fighters in the top five were Ferguson protesters, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Iraqi Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani and Chinese entrepreneur Jack Ma.
The magazine's readers voted India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi to receive the title, but the readers' poll is non-binding
In 2013, Pope Francis was bestowed the title, which has been given since 1927.
The winner traditionally appears on the front cover of a special issue of the magazine.
Other past winners include Mahatma Gandhi (1930), Adolf Hitler (1938), Queen Elizabeth II (1952), Martin Luther King, Jr. (1963), U.S. President Barack Obama (2008) and Russian President Vladimir Putin (2012).