In just 12 months, the 51-year-old lawyer and former U.S. senator raised by a single mother went from a beleaguered candidate for re-election -- his record and signature health care law under daily attack by Republican rivals -- to being the first Democrat to win more than 50% of a presidential vote twice since Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Now the nation's first African-American president is CNN's Most Intriguing Person of 2012, as voted on by readers of CNN.com, five days after being named Time's Person of the Year.
Explaining Time's choice, Executive Editor Richard Stengel cited Obama "for finding and forging a new majority, for turning weakness into opportunity and for seeking, amid great adversity, to create a more perfect union."
2nd place for CNN's top honor? Malala Yousufzai -- the girl the Taliban wanted dead:
For years, the young activist has been at odds with the Taliban over her education crusade. She has openly defied the group's teachings on educating girls and encouraged her peers to do the same.
In an attempt to silence her, militants stormed her school van in October, barked out her name and put a bullet in her head.
But the attack only amplified her voice and rallied a world of supporters to her side.