It feels like the news gets bigger and more wild every year. 2022 was no exception, from record-breaking heatwaves in Europe to the slap heard ‘round the world. Here are 10 of the biggest headlines from this year and the photos that helped tell their stories.
The Los Angeles Rams Win Super Bowl LVI: February 13, 2022
The Los Angeles Rams defeated the Cincinnati Bengals 23 to 20 at their home stadium in Inglewood, Calif. This marked only the second time in the league’s history that a team played and won the Super Bowl in their home stadium. This was also the first time the Rams won the big game since moving to Los Angeles. They previously won in 1999, when they were based in St. Louis. Nearly 167 million people watched the event on TV or streamed online, making it the second most-watched Super Bowl in history.
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Those numbers were no doubt boosted by the game’s halftime show, which was headlined by Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Mary J. Blige, and Kendrick Lamar.
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Russia Invades Ukraine: Feb 24, 2022
Four days after the closing ceremony of the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing, Russia launched their invasion of Ukraine—their resource-rich neighbor and former member of the USSR.
According to a Western intelligence report, Chinese officials knew the invasion was coming. As Russia’s biggest and most powerful ally, China urged Putin to put off his attack until after the Olympics. This was so the attack would not cast a pall over the Games and divert attention from China’s achievements as their host.
On November 9, 2022, General Mark Miller, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, estimated that the war up until that point had resulted in “well over 100,000 Russian soldiers killed and wounded,” and the “same thing on the Ukrainian side.” Miller also estimated that the Russians had thus far killed approximately 40,000 Ukrainian civilians and displaced 15-30 million more.
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Will Smith Slaps Chris Rock: March 27, 2022
Will Smith was the heavy favorite to take home the Oscar for Best Actor at the 94th annual Academy Awards. He was honored for his portrayal of Richard Williams, father of tennis greats Venus and Serena Williams, in King Richard. Then, Chris Rock took the stage and made a dated GI Jane joke at the expense of Will’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. Although Will initially laughed at the joke, when he saw the hurt and angry look on his wife’s face, he ascended the stage and slapped Rock.
Later in the evening, as Will accepted his Oscar, he apologized to the Academy and his fellow nominees in a speech. It included religious references and comparisons between himself and Richard WIlliams as “a fierce defender of his family.” Smith said, “I look like the crazy father, just like they said about Richard Williams. But love will make you do crazy things.”
Smith apologized to Rock the following day, in a written statement posted to his Instagram account.
The slap spawned countless articles and opinion pieces. It became one of the most persistent news stories of the year.
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The Met Gala: May 2, 2022
“Fashion’s Biggest Night” was back to its old self this year, after being canceled in 2020 and delayed until the fall in 2021. “Gilded Glamour” was the theme of the night. Guests included Billie Eilish, Nicki Minaj, Hayley Bieber, and Lizzo all dressed accordingly. It was Kim Kardashian who had the biggest moment of the night, however. She walked the red carpet in the actual dress worn by Marilyn Monroe to sing “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” to John F. Kennedy at Madison Square Garden in 1962.
The Gala was co-chaired by Blake Lively, Ryan Reynolds, Regina King, and Lin-Manuel Miranda. It brought in a record $17.4 million for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute.
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Britney Spears Weds: June 9, 2022
Seven months after the end of a 13-year conservatorship, which saw Britney Spears’s every moment and asset controlled by her father, the newly freed pop star married her boyfriend of six years, Sam Asghari. As the exclusive photo agency for Britney Spears’ wedding, Shutterstock was the partner for brands such as Vogue, CNN, E!, People, and others to break the news.
The couple met in 2016 when Asghari co-starred with Spears in the music video for her single “Slumber Party.” They were married at Spears’ home in Thousand Oaks, California.
Spears wore a custom Versace gown for the event. The nuptials were attended by celebrities including Selena Gomez, Drew Barrymore, and Madonna. Spears’ parents and her sister were not invited to the wedding. Her sons, Sean Preston and Jayden James, did not attend either. A lawyer for the boys’ father, Kevin Federline, released a statement on behalf of the teens saying, “They think the focus of this day should be on Britney and Sam, and they are very happy for her moving forward.”
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SCOTUS Overturns Roe v. Wade: June 24, 2022
With a vote of six to three, the conservative-leaning Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. This ended nearly 50 years of federal abortion protection in the United States. Since the ruling, abortions have been completely banned in 13 states, even in cases where the pregnancy is no longer viable (such as in the case of a miscarriage) or when bringing the pregnancy to term would result in the death of the mother, the child, or both. These all-out abortion bans also make no exceptions for victims of rape or incest, even when those victims are children.
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Europe Suffers a Record-Breaking Heatwave: Summer 2022
It was the hottest summer on record for much of Europe. Climate change drove the highest temperatures in recorded history across many parts of the continent from May to August. Extreme heat and drought also fueled forest fires across Europe, setting new burnt records in nine EU countries. According to the World Health Organization, the summer heatwave also caused the deaths of over 15,000 people.
Heatwaves and droughts also persisted in the southern hemisphere. There, the effects of climate change are even more pronounced and devastating to local populations and ecosystems. This tragedy is in spite of the fact that people in these regions have significantly smaller carbon footprints and contribute much less to climate change than those in the North.
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Queen Elizabeth II Dies: September 8, 2022
Britain’s longest-reigning monarch died at her Scottish estate, Balmoral, at the age of 96. Queen Elizabeth II came to the throne in 1952 after the death of her father, King George VI. She recently celebrated her Platinum Jubilee, marking 70 years of service. The Queen, who was often photographed in her iconic monochromatic outfits (the better for her security to keep an eye on her) or surrounded by her beloved corgis, is succeeded by her son, King Charles III. His official coronation is set to take place on May 6, 2023.
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Elon Musk Buys Twitter: Oct 28, 2022
After months of flip-flopping, mudslinging, and protracted legal battles, Elon Musk officially took control of Twitter on October 28. He paid $44 billion for the social media giant. Following the acquisition, Musk immediately began laying off top executives. He told remaining staffers that the new Twitter would be “extremely hardcore,” so they should either get in line or get out. Since then, more than 1,200 Twitter employees have exited the company. Half of Twitter’s top 100 advertisers have suspended their spending. A poorly executed rollout of paid verification resulted in embarrassment for the company and perpetuated misinformation online, which caused stocks at companies like Eli Lilly to plummet briefly.
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The World Cup Begins in Qatar: November 20, 2022
After much controversy, the FIFA World Cup kicked off in Qatar on November 20, 2022. The tournament will not be decided until December 18, at which point a field of 32 teams will have been whittled down to a final two. The next World Cup in 2026 will be even bigger, with 48 teams competing in the US, Canada, and Mexico.
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