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Posted: December 20, 2016

2016's most controversial figures

Most Controversial People of 2016

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            2016's most controversial figures
(L-R) Colin Kaepernick, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump and were all polarizing figures in 2016. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images, Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images, Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

By Kelcie Willis

Cox Media Group National Content Desk

It has been an interesting 12 months for 2016. World news in sports, politics and entertainment made for some polarizing people -- and in one case, a polarizing gorilla.

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In no particular order, here are some of 2016's most controversial figures:

Ryan Lochte

The 2016 Summer Olympics probably didn't go the way gold medalist Ryan Lochte planned it to. Controversy began with an August incident in which Lochte and U.S. swim teammates Gunnar Bentz, Jack Conger and Jimmy Feigen allegedly destroyed a gas station restroom, but video of the swimmers didn't appear to show them near the restrooms. Lochte claimed they were robbed at gunpoint by men claiming to be police, but later said he "over-exaggerated" the story. Lochte lost four endorsement deals in one day after the incident.

Lochte's attempt at an image rehab on "Dancing With the Stars" in September was overshadowed his first night when protesters stormed the stage.The end of 2016 is looking up for the star, though: He's engaged to his girlfriend, a former Playboy model, and they are expecting their first child in 2017.

Stacey Dash

Former "Clueless" actress Stacey Dash makes a name for herself by expressing opinions that are very polarizing. In January, she called for an end to Black History Month during an appearance on "Fox & Friends." Her awkward attempt at self-deprecation at the Oscars in February seemed to make things worse when most of the so-called mainstream media didn't seem to get the joke.

In June, Dash said during an interview with "Entertainment Tonight" that being transgender is a lifestyle choice. In response to North Carolina's "bathroom bill," Dash said trans people should "go to the bushes" to use the restroom.

Harambe the gorilla

Harambe alone isn't necessarily controversial, but the May 28 incident in which a 3-year-old boy got into the Cincinnati Zoo's gorilla enclosure that led to the gorilla being shot and killed plagued the park. Memes and jokes persisted months after the incident and the zoo's director, Thane Maynard, told The Associated Press the zoo was "not amused by the memes, petitions and signs about Harambe." But in the internet age, nothing ever really dies, and even in December, there are still people actively tweeting about Harambe the gorilla.

Colin Kaepernick

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick drew criticism and applause for sitting during the national anthem at NFL preseason games. The athlete said he did so in protest of police brutality of African-Americans. He later began kneeling, but still drew criticism from Hall of Fame coach Mike Ditka; and from U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, although Ginsburg has since expressed regret over her remarks.

Kaepernick's decision led him to be named the "most disliked player" in the NFL in one research poll in September, he made the cover of Time magazine that same week. And if kneeling during the anthem was bad to some, Kaepernick then told reporters he wouldn't be voting in the 2016 presidential election. "I think it would be hypocritical of me to vote," Kaepernick told reporters. "I said from the beginning I was against oppression … to me, the oppressor isn't going to allow you to vote your way out of your oppression."

Kanye West

The election year brought a lot of opinions out of Kanye West. During multiple stops on his Saint Pablo Tour, West vented about his frustrations with industry friends Jay Z and Beyonce, even claiming that Jay Z did not call him after his wife, Kim Kardashian, was robbed at gunpoint in Paris in October. West also claimed Beyonce would not perform at the MTV VMAs unless she won Video of the Year, and that although he did not vote in the election, he would have voted for Trump if he had.

The rapper was briefly hospitalized in November. In one of his first appearances since his hospitalization, West posed for photos with President-elect Donald Trump, another controversial figure, outside Trump Tower in New York in December.

Hillary Clinton

Former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was mostly surrounded by controversy once emails began to surface. Leaks plagued her campaign, including emails sent from a private server while she was working as Secretary of State and pieces and full versions of other paid speeches she gave to banks and other organizations.

Clinton was also under investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in October just before Election Day. And her "basket of deplorables" comment about "half of Trump supporters" in September drew so much criticism, she had to issue a statement to attempt to clear the air.

Donald Trump

The president-elect of the United States didn't run for office without controversy. Donald Trump made headlines when he called for a "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States," according to a since-deleted statement on his website. Some other controversies Trump became involved in include his feud with Fox News' Megyn Kelly, a leak of audio before a 2005 "Access Hollywood" interview that Trump later called "locker room banter" and multiple accusations of sexual assault.


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