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Three Badgers on 2018 TIME 100 List

Virgil Abloh, Anne McKee, and JJ Watt among world’s most influential people.

MADISON, Wisconsin (April 19, 2018) — Badger pride is strong today as TIME magazine includes three UW–Madison alumni in its annual list of the most influential people. The editors of TIME say the staff considers candidates’ lifetime achievements and how they are a reflection of the moment.

Virgil Abloh: Since graduating from UW–Madison in 2003, he has thrown caution and his engineering degree to the wind to build an empire of music, fashion, and celebrity connections. The music world knows him as DJ Flat White, famous for playing the hottest London dance clubs. Recently, he and French DJ Guillaume Berg formed a group under the Bromance record label called Paris, IL — which had an A-list crowd surfer during its set at the Coachella music festival: rapper and cultural icon Kanye West, who also showed up during Abloh’s set at the Bromance after-party. For more than a decade, Abloh has served as West’s creative director, a role that he described to New York Magazine as “basically just [helping] him see his vision through.” But more than his music career — and perhaps even more than working as West’s “all-purpose cultural guru,” as the New York Times called him — Abloh is known for his clothing line, Off-White.

Ann McKee: McKee is at the center of a struggle between heart and head. Her heart belongs to the Green Bay Packers. “I love football,” she says. “Everyone knows that. I come from a very heavily football family.” But McKee’s head belongs to science. As a neuropathologist, her chosen science is head science: the study of brains. And what her head tells her is that football is literally beating some players’ brains into incoherence — and tragically, they won’t realize it until it’s too late to prevent an early and excruciating death. “It’s very frightening,” McKee says. “Here’s this game that we all love so much, and though we don’t see any visible injuries, it can cause these devastating effects.” After earning her bachelor’s degree in zoology at UW–Madison in 1975, McKee went on to medical school at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland before completing three residencies: in internal medicine, neurology, and finally neuropathology. She moved on to faculty positions first at Harvard and then at Boston University, where today she is the director of the chronic traumatic encephalopathy center and one of the world’s leading authorities on traumatic brain injury from contact sports and military service, as well as its long-term consequences.

JJ Watt: After Hurricane Harvey devastated Houston, former Wisconsin Badger and now Houston Texan JJ Watt took action on the internet with an inspiring relief effort. His goal was relatively modest: to raise $200,000 — the first $100,000 of which Watt would match. Celebrities and athletes were among those who donated, including the Green Bay Packers organization, which made a $100,000 gift; musician Drake, who gave $200,000; Amy Adams Strunk, owner of the Tennessee Titans, who gave $1 million; and Ellen DeGeneres, who teamed up with Walmart to give another $1 million. When it was over, Watt helped to raise more than $37 million for water, food, and supplies, which he helped to deliver to storm victims.

Congratulations to these amazing Badgers who are living the Wisconsin Idea: the principle that graduates should use their UW–Madison education to better their community and the world.

To see all TIME 100 honorees, please visit

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Contact: Tod Pritchard,, 608-609-5217, @WisAlumni

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