Megan Rapinoe goes from soccer hero to Sports Illustrated’s Sportsperson of the Year

It was impossible to ignore soccer superstar and social activist Megan Rapinoe in 2019. She led the U.S Women’s National Soccer Team to a monumental world championship victory in July and made repeated headlines for her unapologetic stance against gender discrimination and racism.

And now she can add one more honor to her banner year: Being named Sports Illustrated’s Sportsperson of the Year, the fourth woman in the award’s 66-year history to win it unaccompanied.

Rapinoe is the only woman in history to start in three consecutive women’s world championship finals, helping lead the United States to victory in the 2019 world championship this past July. Rapinoe’s multiple accolades include earning awards for top scorer and most valuable player at her sport’s highest level.

On and off the field, Rapinoe has made it her mission to stand for something bigger than herself, her team and her sport, striving to rectify inequalities and promote social change.

“I think my success bears witness to, not only the necessity of speaking truth to power, but also the power of truth,” Rapinoe said during her acceptance speech. “Not only do I believe we can be better; I believe that we together — we are just better.”

Volkswagen has recognized Rapinoe’s accomplishments and most recent award with a campaign using the people she inspires every day — her fans. The work features fans in Rapinoe’s signature pose, which has become synonymous with the confidence of the U.S. Women’s National Team and the fight for equality that has engaged people around the world.

“It’s clearly more than a celebration,” Rapinoe told SI about her signature pose. “I’m still trying to articulate exactly the way I feel in it. This is me in the full. We’re not going to be a certain way for anyone. This is me, and you know you love it.”

Volkswagen’s ambassadorship with Rapinoe is an extension of an existing program — this past summer, VW announced a similar collaboration with Alex Morgan, Rapinoe’s teammate on the U.S. Women’s National Team. As the presenting partner of U.S. Soccer through 2022, Volkswagen plans to help U.S. Soccer in its mission to become the preeminent sport in the United States through increased visibility, player and coach development, and promoting greater fan engagement across the country.