- 2020 is likely to be a year remembered for record-breaking political engagement, social activism, and the coronavirus pandemic.
- It's easy to forget that events like the Oscars, the Grammys, and the Super Bowl went ahead as scheduled.
- Major political moments like President Donald Trump's impeachment acquittal in the Senate and a tense State of the Union Address also happened this year.
- Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.
In 2020, a year dominated by the coronavirus pandemic and the presidential election, many of the year's biggest events have faded into the background.
The Super Bowl, the Oscars, and the Grammys all happened before the country began quarantining and social distancing. Major political events happened at the beginning of the year, only to be overshadowed by the election.
There has also been great tragedy: More than 200,000 Americans have died due to the coronavirus, deadly wildfires burned millions of acres on the West Coast, and we also said goodbye to icons, such as Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Here are 20 of this year's biggest news events — many of which you might not believe happened this year — that had nothing to do with COVID-19 or the election.
After months of destruction, a third state of emergency was called in Australia on January 2 as bushfires continued to devastate parts of the country.
After the fires began in September 2019, it was reported in February that more than 27 million acres had burned and 1 billion animals were feared dead as a result of the catastrophic brushfires. The Australian government released a list of 113 animals it said needed "emergency intervention" in order to survive after the fires, according to an article by Business Insider.
Smoke from the brushfires is estimated to have killed 445 people, while 34 people were killed directly by the fires.
Iranian general Qasem Soleimani was killed in a US drone strike on January 3.
One of the first international events of the new year was the announcement that Iranian general Qasem Soleimani had been killed in Baghdad by a US drone strike on January 3, 2020. At the orders of President Donald Trump, the airstrike was carried out because, according to a tweet written by the president, Soleimani had "killed or badly wounded thousands of Americans … and was plotting to kill many more."
Protests followed in Iran and in several states. According to the BBC, Soleimani was considered the "second most powerful figure in Iran" at the time of his death.
Controversy over the killing was a topic of discussion in Washington. Top Democratic officials also spoke out against the decision, with Joe Biden claiming President Trump had "tossed a stick of dynamite into a tinderbox," while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell took to the Senate floor to state that Soleimani was "a threat to the United States," backing the president's order.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced they would "step back" from the British royal family on January 8.
On January 8, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle made a joint announcement that they had decided to "step back" from the royal family in order to launch a "new charitable entity." Prince Harry and Meghan Markle ultimately left their roles as working royals.
Markle and Prince Harry have since bought a home in Santa Barbara, California, and moved there with their son, Archie — according to a report by the Mail on Sunday, the royal family misses seeing him. Markle also recently made history as the first modern member of the British royal family to vote in a US election.
At the 2020 Golden Globe Awards, Awkwafina made history as the first person of Asian descent to win in the lead actress category.
Awkwafina accepted the award for her role in "The Farewell," a story about a young woman named Billi, who along with her family returns home to China to say goodbye to the family matriarch, who unknowingly has only a few weeks to live.
In her acceptance speech, Awkwafina dedicated the award to her father, saying, "I told you I'd get a job, dad."
Also in January, the House of Representatives voted to send its impeachment articles against President Trump to the Senate.
While it may seem like a lifetime ago, the House of Representatives passed a vote to send impeachment articles against President Trump to the Senate on January 15, 2020, for obstruction of congress and abuse of power. The decision came after the House voted to impeach the president on December 18, 2019. The verdict was delivered along party lines, with 230 in favor, 197 against, and 1 present.
President Trump was ultimately acquitted in the Senate on February 5, yet his impeachment in the House of Representatives was one of the most talked-about political moments of the year, and his presidency.
Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven other passengers died in a tragic helicopter accident in January.
While no one has forgotten the tragic passing of basketball legend Kobe Bryant, 41, and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna on January 26, some might forget that the accident occurred this year and not in 2019 or before.
The cause of the crash, which occurred about 30 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles, has yet to be determined, though one theory is that foggy weather conditions may have disoriented the helicopter pilot.
Bryant and his daughter were honored at a public memorial service on February 24 at Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles. Approximately 20,000 mourners were in attendance, including NBA legend Michael Jordan, many of Bryant's former Lakers teammates, and the player's former rivals.
On January 31, the United Kingdom withdrew from the European Union, finalizing "Brexit."
The controversial move was predated by years of turmoil, protests, and back-and-forth over the United Kingdom leaving the European Union.
"The most important thing to say tonight is that this is not an end but a beginning," British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a video message. "This is the moment when the dawn breaks and the curtain goes up on a new act. It is a moment of real national renewal and change."
At the Grammy Awards, Billie Eilish won song of the year, record of the year, album of the year, and best new artist.
The "Bad Guy" singer, then 18 years old, made history as the youngest performer to ever take home the top four awards, as well as the first woman to win all the top categories.
Other winners of the night included Lizzo, who won best pop solo performance for "Truth Hurts," and Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus, who won best pop duo/group performance for "Old Town Road."
Super Bowl LIV on February 2, 2020, featured a halftime performance from Shakira and Jennifer Lopez in front of more than 60,000 attendees.
It's hard to believe that not too long ago, sports fans packed the stands of Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida, to witness Super Bowl LIV.
The Kansas City Chiefs beat the San Francisco 49ers, 31-20. The event featured co-headlined halftime performances by Shakira and Jennifer Lopez, who performed favorites like "Hips Don't Lie" and "Jenny From the Block" in front of thousands of fans.
Bad Bunny and J Balvin also made guest appearances in the critically acclaimed show.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi famously tore up a copy of Trump's speech during the president's State of the Union address on February 4.
One of the most memorable pre-election political moments of the year — before the coronavirus really took hold in the US — was when Nancy Pelosi ripped up Trump's speech after his State of the Union address on February 4, 2020.
The attention-grabbing moment came after months of tension over his impeachment case. What's more, right before the State of the Union speech, President Trump appeared to snub the House Speaker's handshake.
Reactions to Pelosi's actions were mixed. According to an article by the Associated Press, Republican Representative Liz Cheney called Pelosi's actions a "temper tantrum," while Democratic Representative Don Beyer said, "If you are more offended by ripping up some pieces of paper than by the president telling disgraceful lies to the Congress and the country about trying to end protections for millions of Americans with preexisting conditions we aren't going to see eye to eye here."
If Pelosi's motives were to overshadow the president's address, it appeared to work.
"She gave us something to talk about. She knew exactly what she was doing," Fox News anchor Steve Doocy said at the time, according to CNN.
"Parasite" won the Academy Award for best picture on February 9.
The Oscars seem oh, so long ago. However, it was only about a month before the country was encouraged to take precautions due to the coronavirus pandemic that "Parasite" won the top honor at the Academy Awards. The movie made history as the first foreign-language film to win the award for best picture.
Other winners of the night included Joaquin Phoenix, who won best actor in a leading role for "Joker," and Reneé Zellweger, who won best actress in a leading role for "Judy." Other winners of the night included "Little Women," "Marriage Story," and "1917."
Harvey Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years in prison on March 11.
On March 11, right as the coronavirus pandemic was starting to gain ground in the US, Harvey Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years in prison. Weinstein was convicted of first-degree criminal sexual act and third-degree rape and faced between five and 29 years in prison at the time of his sentencing.
Also in March, Weinstein tested positive for COVID-19, and his lawyers argued he should be released on bail to avoid contracting it again amid his other health issues. However, efforts to release Weinstein from prison have been unsuccessful.
In one of 2020's most shocking TV moments, former politician Sarah Palin was unmasked on "The Masked Singer."
On March 11, in one of the most shocking reveals in "The Masked Singer" history, former half-term Alaskan governor and vice-presidential hopeful Sarah Palin was unmasked as the Bear in her first appearance on the show. She performed "Baby Got Back" by Sir Mix-a-Lot.
After helping Palin to remove her mask, host Nick Cannon said, "This might be the most shocked I have ever been on this show."
The reveal also created a major buzz online, and NBC opinion writer Ani Bundel said the performance "perfectly encapsulated our absurdist reality."
Rumors swirled in April that North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong Un had died of a mysterious illness.
Rumors ran rampant in April that Kim Jong Un, the leader of North Korea, had passed away. Multiple news outlets reported on the rumors as well as who would be next in line to replace Jong Un in the event that he had died. However, the rumors were soon proven to be false.
One of the year's biggest news stories was the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement.
People across all 50 states, in more than 700 cities, and even in countries across the globe participated in peaceful protests with the aim of fighting for police reform and justice for Black lives across the nation and the world.
The spike in Black Lives Matter protests has been attributed largely to the deaths of George Floyd, who died at the hands of Minneapolis police on May 25, and Breonna Taylor, an EMT worker who was shot while in her home by Louisville, Kentucky, police officers on March 13. However, others such as Ahmaud Arbery, who was fatally shot while jogging in February, were also honored at the protests.
According to the New York Times, approximately a fifth of all voters in the 2020 election said the protests were the "single most important factor" in their final decision of who to vote for.
Twitter accounts belonging to Joe Biden, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, and Kanye West were hacked as part of a bitcoin scam in July.
Dozens of high-profile celebrities and leaders experienced account hacking in July, linked to an apparent bitcoin scam. The scam tweets all read the same message: "I am giving back to the community. All Bitcoin sent to the address below will be sent back doubled! If you send $1,000, I will send back $2,000. Only doing this for 30 minutes."
Shortly after the tweets were posted, they were debunked as a scam and Twitter launched an investigation into how the accounts were compromised. A 17-year-old was later arrested, accused of masterminding the hack; he pleaded not guilty in August.
On August 4, a port explosion in Beirut left more than 178 people dead, over 6,500 injured, and 300,000 people homeless.
According to Lebanon's prime minister, 2,750 metric tons of ammonium nitrate were improperly stored inside a warehouse near the port of Beirut. The BBC reported that while ammonium nitrate is generally safe when stored properly, any ignition can be disastrous. The explosion in Beirut is believed to have been caused by a fire inside the warehouse, potentially linked to welding work that was being carried out that morning.
Local reports said the blast was felt dozens of miles away, according to a previous article by Business Insider. The BBC also explained the magnitude of the explosion by comparing it to the nuclear bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. According to the BBC, the explosion in Beirut was about a 10th of the intensity of the nuclear bomb.
Deadly wildfires burned more than 4 million acres in California, more than 1 million acres in Oregon, and hundreds of thousands of acres in Washington.
The wildfires, which mainly started in the middle of August, caused record-breaking devastation across California and the Pacific Northwest. The wildfires burned an astonishing 4 million acres of land in California, which is more than double the previous record for most land burned in a single year in California, according to a previous report by the Associated Press.
At least 32 deaths were attributed to this year's fires – of them, four were firefighters and 28 were civilians.
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away on September 18 at the age of 87.
Ginsburg's death was attributed to complications from metastatic cancer of the pancreas. A champion of women's rights and gender equality, Ruth Bader Ginsburg's passing was met with reverence for her legacy in the Supreme Court, where she served for 27 years.
"Our nation has lost a justice of historic stature," Chief Justice John Roberts said, according to NPR. "We at the Supreme Court have lost a cherished colleague. Today we mourn but with confidence that future generations will remember Ruth Bader Ginsburg as we knew her, a tireless and resolute champion of justice."
In her last public statement, Ginsburg dictated to her granddaughter, Clara Spera, "My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed."
Ginsburg's wish was not granted, however. On October 26, just over a month after Ginsburg's passing, Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed by the Senate to the Supreme Court. Justice Barrett's confirmation was controversial as both Democrats and polled American voters argued a new justice should not be confirmed until after the election. She is the fifth woman to be confirmed and the youngest justice on the Supreme Court.
"Murder hornets" were spotted in the US, and a nest was found in Washington state in October.
The discovery of a "murder hornet" nest was made in Washington State. According to the Associated Press, murder hornets are a species of hornet that can wipe out hives of honeybees and deliver painful, and even deadly, stings to humans. The insects were believed to have first come from Asia.
Murder hornets are larger in size than other species of hornets. They quickly gained attention on the internet as one of the scariest things 2020 has conjured up, though true harm to humans is rare.
"I feel like god is using an end-of-the-world problem generator and just got 'murder hornets,'" one person tweeted.
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