Newsmakers Who Had the Best and Worst Year in 2013

PHOTO: Jean Claude Van-Damme stars in the latest stunt video for Volvo Trucks.
Volvo Trucks

The year 2013 has seen its share of epic victories and crushing setbacks, from a religious leader who became a breath of fresh air for his faith's followers to a mayor whose all-too-public unraveling became great fodder for late-night TV jokes. Here are some newsmakers who celebrated banner years in 2013 and some who probably would like to see 2013 fade into memory.


PHOTO: Toronto Mayor Rob Ford sits in the council chamber as Councillors look to pass motions to limit his powers, Nov. 18, 2013, in Toronto.
Chris Young/The Canadian Press/AP Photo
Rob Ford

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford had a series of unfortunate public meltdowns in 2013, snowballing with an admission that he smoked crack cocaine, "probably in one of my drunken stupors."

A video surfaced days later of his ranting and threatening to kill someone. He added fuel to the fire in November when he made sexually explicit comments on live TV, for which he later apologized.

Despite the conduct and the embarrassing revelations, Ford refused to resign and was eventually stripped of most of his mayoral powers by the City Council. But that hasn't prevented him from aspiring to higher office.


PHOTO: Pope Francis
Andrew Medichini/AP Photo
Pope Francis

Since being elected pope in March, Francis has captivated believers and non-believers alike with his populist message and deeds of humility, marking a dramatic departure from his more dogmatic predecessors.

Cardinal Bergoglio of Argentina is the first Jesuit to become pope and the first pope from the Americas. And he quickly backed up his unique resume with deeds that set a new tone for the Vatican.

In October, Pope Francis suspended the German clergyman known as the "Bishop of Bling" for his lavish lifestyle. At the end of his general audience at St. Peter's Square in early November, the 76-year-old leader of the Catholic Church shared a compassionate moment with a man whose face appeared to be plagued with boils. Later that month, he slammed trickle-down economics and greed at the top.

And capping off his first year as pontiff, Francis was named as Time magazine's Person of the Year -- a reflection of his popularity with both Catholics and non-Catholics.


PHOTO: Martin MacNeill, a doctor accused of murdering his wife in 2007, appears in Judge Samuel McVeys Fourth District Court, in Provo, Utah, for the first day of preliminary hearings, Oct. 10, 2012.
Al Hartmann/The Salt Lake Tribune/AP
Dr. Martin MacNeill

A Utah jury found Dr. Martin MacNeill guilty in November of drugging and drowning his wife, all so he could allegedly pursue an affair with a woman he met online.

MacNeill, 57, was found guilty of first-degree murder and obstruction of justice for the April 11, 2007, death of his former beauty queen wife, Michele MacNeill, 50. In early December, MacNeill was hospitalized after he attempted suicide in his jail cell with a razor, according to the Utah County Sheriff's Office.


PHOTO: Miley Cyrus performs during the iHeartRadio Music Festival Village, Sept. 21, 2013, in Las Vegas.
Jason Kempin/Getty Images for Clear Channel
Miley Cyrus

Whether you like Miley Cyrus, everyone talked about the 21-year-old pop star this year. After she "made history" by twerking at the VMAs, the "Wrecking Ball" singer celebrated the success of her album, "Bangerz," and released a number of racy videos to go with it. Sure, this also marked the year that Cyrus split from her fiancé, Liam Hemsworth, but she managed to emerge more confident than ever. "I don't ever want to have to need someone again, where you feel like, without them, you can't be yourself," she told Barbara Walters.


PHOTO: Mens Wearhouse CEO George ZImmer 59, photographed at the Oakland Zoo.
George Zimmer

Retailer Men's Wearhouse announced this summer that it "terminated" founder and executive chairman George Zimmer, best known to consumers for his distinctive husky voice in the TV commercials pitching suits. He fired back, saying the company's board "has inappropriately chosen to silence my concerns."

Read More: George Zimmer, Men's Wearhouse Founder, Said He Was 'Inappropriately' Silenced


PHOTO: Kerry Washington arrives at the Varietys fifth annual Power Of Women Event, Oct. 4, 2013, in Beverly Hills, Calif.
Steve Granitz/Getty Images
Kerry Washington

This year was a monster year for Kerry Washington. Not only did the "Scandal" star's career reach new heights, (she earned an Emmy and a Golden Globe nomination for playing glamorous fixer Olivia Pope) but, personally, she accomplished a lot, too. Washington, 36, secretly married NFL star Nnamdi Asomugha in June, and a few months later, it was reported that the actress was expecting their first child.


PHOTO: Mark Cuban smiles as he stands outside the federal courthouse after a verdict in his insider trading trial in Dallas
LM Otero/AP Photo
Mark Cuban

In October, billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban beat long-standing charges by the Securities and Exchange Commission that he engaged in insider trading.

The SEC accused Cuban of selling 600,000 shares worth $7.9 million in search firm based on nonpublic information in 2004. He is said to have avoided a $750,000 loss on the sale, according to the SEC, which brought a civil suit against him in November 2008.

Cuban, 55, is worth an estimated $2.5 billion, according to Forbes. His net worth was bumped up by $200 million this year mostly as a result of the NBA's collective bargaining agreement, increasing the net value of his 90 percent stake in the NBA Dallas Mavericks team by $170 million, Forbes said.

Read More: Mark Cuban's Biggest Wins and Losses


PHOTO: Giuseppe "Joe" Giudice and wife Teresa Giudice appear in court during a bankruptcy case, Aug. 14, 2013, in Newark, N.J.
Mike Coppola/Getty Images
Teresa and Joe Giudice

Unfortunately for "Real Housewives of New Jersey" stars Teresa and Joe Giudice, their legal issues from 2013 (and there are a lot of them!) will carry into 2014. Teresa, 41, and Joe, 34, were indicted this year on 41 federal charges; both stars have pleaded not guilty. To make matters worse, Joe was pulled over and given two summonses in November for failing to have an inspection sticker on his car and for an expired insurance card.


PHOTO: Twitter Chairman and Square CEO Jack Dorsey
Bill Pugliano/Getty Images
Twitter Founders and Investors

Twitter's board, which is comprised of the social media site's founders and early investors, made billions from its initial public offering Nov. 7.

Twitter chairman and co-founder Jack Dorsey, 36, owned about $1.05 billion of Twitter shares based on the closing price from its first day as a public company alone, according to Wealth-X. Co-founder Evan Williams, who has an estimated 12 percent stake and was Twitter's CEO until 2010, was the IPO's largest beneficiary. His one-day gain from the first day of trading likely exceeded $1 billion.

As of early December, Twitter shares were trading above $52, more than twice its IPO price of $26.

In Photos: Meet Twitter's Biggest Money Winners


PHOTO: Paula Deen
Serg Alexander/Getty Images
Paula Deen

Once a beloved Food Network star, Paula Deen experienced an epic fall from grace this year after it was revealed that she'd once used a racial slur. Not only did she lose a number of endorsement deals, but the Food Network axed her shows as well. Afterward, she sobbed on national television, begging for her fans' forgiveness. "There's a couple of kinds of people that I don't like that I am prejudiced against and that's thieves and liars," she said. "I know how I treat people. I know my love for people."


PHOTO: In this Aug. 14, 2012 file photo provided by Chinas Xinhua News Agency, Jang Song Thaek, North Koreas vice chairman of the powerful National Defense Commission, attends a meeting on developing the economic zones in North Korea, in Beijing.
Li Xin/Xinhua/AP Photo
Jang Song-thaek

Top North Korean official Jang Song-thaek -- uncle of the country's leader Kim Jong Un -- was executed in early December for corruption, acts of treachery and womanizing, the state news agency KCNA reported.

State TV also aired footage of Jang being dragged out of a Workers Party Central Committee meeting by uniformed officers. It was a dramatic twist of fate for Jang, widely considered the power broker behind Kim. In the official statement, KCNA called Jang "despicable human scum" and "worse than a dog."

Analysts who study the secretive regime said the purge might indicate that North Korea's young leader is trying to solidify is power.


PHOTO: Ryan Ferguson is seen with his new license after being released from prison.
Courtesy Freed Ryan Ferguson/Facebook
Ryan Ferguson

Ryan Ferguson was freed from prison in November after spending almost a decade in jail for a slaying he didn't commit.

A Missouri state appeals court panel overturned Ferguson's murder conviction, ruling that the prosecution withheld evidence from Ferguson's defense attorneys that could have exculpated him when he was on trial for the killing of Columbia Daily Tribune sports editor Kent Heitholt.

After being freed, Ferguson wasted no time catching up on the things he had missed out on during his long captivity.

Winner and Loser

PHOTO: Elon Musk
Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Elon Musk

It was a rollercoaster year for billionaire Elon Musk. His luxury electric car company, Tesla Motors, suffered some public relations setbacks because of fires.

But like Tony Stark, the fictional billionaire industrialist to whom he is sometimes compared, Musk bounced back with great flare. SpaceX, Musk's space transport company, launched its Falcon 9 rocket after two delays with the company's first commercial payload: a communications satellite.


PHOTO: George Zimmerman, acquitted in the high-profile killing of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin, listens to defense counsel Daniel Megaro, left, Nov. 19, 2013, in Sanford, Fla.
Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel/Pool/AP Photo
George Zimmerman

George Zimmerman beat the rap in the homicide trial for the death of teenager Trayvon Martin when a Florida jury found him not guilty in July. But that wasn't the end of Zimmerman's troubles -- not by a long shot.

In September, Zimmerman, 30, was taken into police custody and then later released without charges after his wife called 911 to say Zimmerman punched his father-in-law in the nose and threatened to shoot him and his wife. Zimmerman was arrested on Nov. 18 after a "domestic disturbance" with his girlfriend. He walked out of jail the following day after agreeing to give up his guns and wear an electronic monitor.

But 2013 may be ending on a high note for him after all. Zimmerman's girlfriend said in early December than she no longer wants to press charges against him and instead wants to get back together with him. And then one of Zimmerman's paintings sold for more than $100,000 on eBay recently.


PHOTO: Edward Snowden, who worked as a contract employee at the National Security Agency, in Hong Kong, June 9, 2013.
The Guardian/AP Photo
Edward Snowden

Edward Snowden, 30, a contractor for the National Security Agency, became a wanted man after he leaked thousands of classified documents about the secretive agency’s vast foreign and domestic surveillance programs beginning in June.

He became a hero to some and a traitor or others, and he has been laying low in Russia to evade espionage charges by the U.S. government.

But the tide my be turning for Snowden. Earlier this month, President Obama’s review group issued its recommended reforms for the NSA's surveillance programs. And there was one clear message weaved throughout the working group’s 46 recommendations: The agency has gone too far.

On Christmas Eve, Snowden released a Christmas message from Moscow pushing for a “better balance” between privacy and security.


PHOTO: Jean Claude Van-Damme stars in the latest stunt video for Volvo Trucks.
Volvo Trucks
Volvo, Jean-Claude Van Damme

In a popular YouTube commercial that generated millions of views and a spoof or two, action star Jean-Claude Van Damme performed "the most epic of splits" between two tractor-trailers while they were driving backward. The stunt was designed to show the stability of Volvo steering, and scored huge buzz for the Swedish vehicle maker and the aging Belgian action star, who showed he still has the right moves to wow viewers while slyly poking fun at himself.

Watch: Jean-Claude Van Damme Performs Jaw-Dropping Stunt

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