Philly’s Biggest Winners of 2016

From Mayor Jim Kenney to actor Sylvester Stallone to politician Josh Shapiro, this year actually had some winners. Seriously!

Clockwise: Outgoing U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger, Villanova Wildcats coach Jay Wright, Mayor Jim Kenney, state Rep. Martina White and actor Sylvester Stallone.

Clockwise: Mayor Jim Kenney, Villanova Wildcats coach Jay Wright, Olympian Nia Ali, actor Sylvester Stallone and outgoing U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger.

Believe it or not, a few people actually succeeded in the otherwise godforsaken 2016. Here’s to all the do-gooders, overachievers, strivers, thrivers, and folks who won so much they got tired of the winning.


The Villanova Wildcats made Philadelphia insanely proud when they won the national championship. Remember when thousands of us marched down Market Street to bask in victory? God, we so needed that. Thankfully, Villanova is at it again: They’re 12-0, and ranked number one in the country in the Associated Press Top 25. Heck, maybe they’ll win the championship again!

Jim Kenney

During the Year of the Outsider, the ultimate insider did swimmingly. The mayor persuaded City Council to pass a soda tax, making Philadelphia the first big city in the country to enact such a levy. His job approval rating is sitting pretty at 53 percent. The soda tax’s revenues will help pay for expanded pre-K, community schools, and infrastructure improvements in the coming years, which could boost his popularity even more (if people don’t revolt when the soda tax goes into effect, that is).

Nia Ali

The 28-year-old Germantown native won a silver medal at the Olympics in the 100-meter hurdles and was part of the first all-American sweep of any women’s track event.

Sylvester Stallone

He may have lost best supporting actor for Creed at the Academy Awards, but he won it at the Golden Globes. Donald Trump also reportedly wanted Stallone to head the National Endowment for the Arts. (He isn’t interested in the gig, though.)

Zane David Memeger

He capped off his last month as U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania by winning a 10-year jail sentence against ex-Congressman Chaka Fattah. The prosecutor’s six-year term has been legend: He’s taken down Traffic Court judges, the former head of the ironworkers union, human traffickers, international gun smugglers, and many others.

Philly Republicans

The city’s Republican Party helped turn out the vote for Trump, who ended up surprising everyone by outperforming Mitt Romney in Philly. GOP state Rep. Martina White also held onto her seat, despite the fact that registered Democrats outnumber Republicans in her district two to one. John Taylor, the longest-serving Philly Republican in Harrisburg, fought back a worthy challenger as well.

Medical Marijuana Advocates

In 2016, Pennsylvania became the 24th state to legalize medical pot. That seemed like a pipe dream just a few years ago.

Josh Shapiro

The Democratic politician walloped a Johnny Doc-backed D.A. in the primary for attorney general, and then crushed GOP candidate John Rafferty in the general election — despite the fact that Hillary Clinton and Katie McGinty, the other Democrats at the top of the ticket in Pennsylvania, were defeated.

Uber and Lyft

After a long, expensive fight, the ride-sharing services are now legal in Philly.

Gayborhood Activists

For months, activists rallied against alleged racism in the Gayborhood, but few city leaders paid attention to them. That changed after a video surfaced showing the owner of iCandy saying the n-word. Then, the Philadelphia Human Relations Commission held a hearing on the problem and Woody’s organized a forum. Be forewarned, elected officials: Protesters are planning to keep the heat on you in the coming year.

Chris Rabb

In the primary, the underdog unseated an incumbent state lawmaker hailing from one of the most powerful political machines in the city. Then in November, Rabb racked up more votes than any other Democratic candidate for state rep in modern history, according to the Public Record. Keep an eye on the soon-to-be legislator.

Philly Parks

Philadelphia’s parks system is in dire need of repair, and advocates have tried to get a major boost in funding for it for years. In 2016, lawmakers finally approved a $500 million upgrade of parks, rec centers, and libraries across the city.

Sam Katz

He was busted for pot possession at PHL Airport, which sounds bad, but we’re pretty sure it actually made him more popular with residents. Which, you know, could come in handy if he runs for office for the zillionth time.


Because the beloved chain opened its biggest Philly store ever. And you can charge your phone at it!

Locals Who Heckle Minor Celebrities Into Liking Philly

Last month, Mara Wilson (yeah, the actress from Matilda) said a mean thing about Philly on Twitter: “Has anyone told Philly people they don’t HAVE to be assholes?” Then Philly criticized her on social media right back, and suddenly, she backed down and made nice with the city: “Anyway, I do like Philadelphia, it just does not like me back.” The same thing happened to out-of-town journalists who criticized the city during the Democratic National Convention. You’ll like us or else, goddamnit!

SEPTA Commuters Who Don’t Have Any Change

You can finally pay for a subway ride with a credit card. Yes, it happened a decade too late, but it’s still on the list. Look, it was a bad year, OK?

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