As we turn the page on 2021, we look back on the Houstonians who were most talked about during the year. To determine these five figures, we considered national mentions, headline mentions, searches, and social media chatter.
What follows are five captivating figures from worlds that are consummately Houston: medicine, food, sports, politics, and entertainment.
Though they range from global sensations to local leaders, what they have in common is a can-do spirit, a genuine sense of humility and purpose, and apex achievement.
A true sampling of Houston, indeed.
What a perfect powerhouse Simone Biles proved to be in 2021. She was astonishingly valiant in her medal performance battling “the twisties” in the Tokyo games. She was positively heroic in her Senate appearance, where she condemned the FBI and U.S. Olympic Committee for their botched handling of the abuse against her and her teammates by former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar.
Not surprisingly, there were 3,000,000 tweets about her in 2021, according to Twitter.
Time Magazine just named our G.O.A.T. from Spring its Athlete of the Year, a fitting honor for our leaping legend.
Dr. Peter Hotez
The dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine has been a fixture on CNN and national media. He has been a patient, methodical voice in the fight against COVID-19 — our own, less controversial Dr. Fauci.
Hotez was part of the team that just delpoyed the new COVID vaccince Corbevax, which is dubbed “The World’s COVID-19 Vaccine,” soon to be widely accessible to inoculate the global population.
"So, have you been to Bludorn yet?" That's the ubiquitous Houston dining question, thanks to the heralded chef.
As CultureMap's Eric Sandler notes, few chefs have made a bigger splash in a shorter amount of time than Bludorn has on Houston. Despite opening Bludorn in the middle of a pandemic, this veteran of New York’s Michelin-starred Cafe Boulud and the Netflix competition series The Final Table has played to capacity crowds since day one.
With a new restaurant coming to Rice Village this summer, expect even more from this Houston star in 2022.
Mayor Sylvester Turner
Navigating a pandemic and rodeo closure was hard enough last year, but Turner did so with grace. Then came Winter Storm Uri this year, a brief return to normalcy, the tragic Astroworld Festival disaster, and now, omicron.
Despite myriad challenges — he even came down with COVID — Turner has been steady amid the daily changing Houston landscape.
Megan Thee Stallion
While she's not technically a full-time Houston resident, Houston-born Megan Pete has had a hot year.
The Hot Girl scored the cover of Sports Illustrated's Swimsuit edition, partnered with Popeye's on a Hottie sauce, and just graduated from Texas Southern University.
We just know she'll bring the heat in 2022 — perhaps to the rodeo?