Dec 10, 2022 - News

9 of Miami's most powerful people in 2022

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

They're entertainers, sports figures, business leaders and politicians, all with one thing in common.

  • Whether you like them or not, the individuals and entities who make up our inaugural Power Players list shaped our city in 2022.

How it works: We reflected on the past year's headlines, considered what's coming in 2023 and polled you all, our dear readers.

  • The unscientific list is produced entirely by the Axios Local editorial team and is not influenced by advertising in any way.

Here's where we landed ...

1. Tua Tagovailoa
Tua Tagovailoa stares off into the distance while wearing a black cap.
Photo: Megan Briggs/Getty Images

Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has overcome persistent criticism and an early-season concussion to become an MVP candidate.

  • Now, he's on the cusp of taking Miami to the playoffs for the first time since 2016.

Biggest move of 2022: After recovering from an injury that led the league to change its concussion protocol, Tagovailoa led the Dolphins on a five-game winning streak.

What we're watching: Whether Tagovailoa can finish the year strong, be the franchise quarterback of the future and help bring a Super Bowl to Miami.

2. Ken Griffin
Ken Griffin speaks during an on-stage interview.
Photo: Michael Kovac/Getty Images

Ken Griffin, the founder of multinational hedge fund Citadel, instantly became the richest person in Florida when he brought his reported $29 billion fortune to Miami this year.

Biggest move of 2022: Griffin moved Citadel's global headquarters from Chicago to South Florida and bought up $1 billion of the area's most coveted real estate.

What we're watching: Griffin appears to have political ambitions. The GOP megadonor has already thrown his support behind Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis if he decides to run for president in 2024.

  • Griffin has said he could potentially serve as Treasury secretary one day.
3. Yung Miami
Rapper Yung Miami performs on stage in front of a purple background.
Photo: Paras Griffin/Getty Images

Yung Miami (born Caresha Brownlee) went from selling clothes on Instagram to collaborating with Drake and forming the rap group City Girls.

  • The Miami rapper also launched her own podcast this year called "Caresha Please," in which she interviews music stars like Megan Thee Stallion and Saweetie.

Biggest move of 2022: Yung Miami was an executive producer for "Rap Sh!t" on HBO with her City Girls co-founder JT. The show, from "Insecure" creator and star Issa Rae, fictionalizes the rise of the female rap duo in the 305.

What we're watching: Yung Miami wants to release another album and more episodes of her podcast, which took a break in September. But there's no word yet on when either may come.

4. Jorge Mas
Jorge Mas and David Beckhal star at the soccer pitch.
Jorge Mas watches an Inter Miami game with David Beckham in 2021. Photo: Mark Brown/Getty Images

Jorge Mas, the billionaire chairman of Coral Gables-based construction and engineering company MasTec, is on to his next act: soccer mogul.

Biggest move of 2022: After years of back and forth, Mas helped secure approval from the city for Inter Miami's new soccer stadium, Miami Freedom Park.

What we're watching: Whether he's powerful enough to bring Messi to Miami.

5. Daniella Levine Cava
Miami-Dade County Mayor speaks at a podium while wearing a grey checkered blazer.
Mayor Daniella Levine Cava announces her $86 million HOMES effort to reduce housing costs. Photo: Jose A. Iglesias/El Nuevo Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

In her second year as Miami-Dade mayor, Daniella Levine Cava tackled major issues that will transform our metro's landscape in the decades to come.

  • Some of her efforts were thwarted, including the county commission's overruling of her veto of a project that would extend development beyond the county's Urban Development Boundary.
  • However, she scrapped a proposal to build a privately operated monorail in favor of a Metromover extension to Miami Beach, a project worth watching next year.

Biggest move of 2022: Levine Cava declared a housing affordability crisis in Miami and proposed $500 million in funding for housing programs, which the County Commission approved as part of this year's budget.

  • "This crisis demands urgent action, both to protect families facing high rents and evictions and expand the supply of affordable housing in the short- and long-term," Levine Cava told Axios.
  • Some housing advocates have criticized landlord subsidies in Levine Cava's plan for benefiting middle-class families instead of lower-income residents.

What we're watching: Levine Cava plans to announce an action plan for tackling extreme heat in the county next week.

6. Billy Corben
Billy Corben poses wearing a black T-shirt that says Miami.
Photo: Santiago Felipe/Getty Images

Miami documentary filmmaker Billy Corben uses his lens to drive the conversation about stories that shape our city — from cocaine trafficking to the dominance of UM football.

  • He also documents Miami's story in real time, using his platform to criticize local politicians and draw attention to what he finds wrong with city government.
  • "It takes us more than a year to make a documentary, but in just a few minutes, I can share an important story about something happening right now on social media," Corben told Axios. "And while Twitter may have a character limit, Miami has unlimited characters."

Biggest move of 2022: Corben's latest only-in-Miami documentary "God Forbid," about an alleged sex scandal involving Christian evangelical leader Jerry Falwell Jr., has become Hulu's most-watched documentary ever.

What we're watching: Corben and producer Alfred Spellman — who form the Miami Beach-based studio Rakontur — just wrapped their latest documentary, "The Last of the Cocaine Cowboys," a four-part miniseries on Medellin cartel co-founder Carlos Lehder.

7. Camila Cabello
Camila Cabello poses in the red seat that defines "The Voice" set.
Camila Cabello on "The Voice." Photo: Trae Patton/NBC via Getty Images

Camila Cabello left Palmetto High, found fame with the singing group Fifth Harmony, and then won over the rest of the country with hits like "Havana" and "Senorita."

  • Though she's going global, we will always claim her for Miami. And it seems she loves us back.

Biggest move of 2022: She landed one of the most coveted jobs in the music industry: a coaching gig on "The Voice."

  • Given that just 3.1% of lead actors in TV shows are Latino, Cabello is truly blazing a trail and showing South Florida — and the world — how far a talented Miami woman can go.

What we're watching: What new heights Cabello might reach after switching record labels this year.

8. Dave Grutman
David Grutman poses wearing a blue suit with Vin Diesel in a white tank top.
Dave Grutman (left) with Vin Diesel. Photo: Paul Morigi/Getty Images for The Stronach Group

Groot Hospitality founder Dave Grutman started out as a bartender and masterfully parlayed his relationships into building an empire.

  • The Miami hospitality entrepreneur now wears many hats: nightclub owner, restaurateur, celebrity wrangler and, even, college instructor.

Biggest move of 2022: Grutman helped global superstar Bad Bunny make his mark on Miami's culinary scene by teaming up to open Gekkō, a Japanese steakhouse in Brickell.

What we're watching: Grutman's going worldwide. He's hinted at future projects in Dallas, Las Vegas and Qatar, and a hotel with Pharrell in the Bahamas.

9. Only in Dade
A woman wearing red pants, a colorful long-sleeved shirt and black sunglasses dances in the street.
Rapper and reality TV personality Veronica Vega (R) of "Love & Hip Hop Miami" twerks with fans during the 2019 Calle Ocho Festival. Photo: Sean Drakes/Getty Images

If you really want to know who runs things around here, you need only look to Instagram, where power is easily quantified. The mayor of Miami has 138,000 followers. The account Only in Dade has 1 million.

  • The community news and comedy account posts videos that capture the spirit of Miami and, somehow, unite us all.
  • It's like a never-ending bloopers show — on which any of us might be featured when we're out and about, twerking on a cop car or accidentally sinking our yacht in the Miami River.

Biggest move of 2022: Marcello Hernández, known for his comedy segments on Only in Dade, joined the cast of "Saturday Night Live."

What we're watching: Public records and at least one news report show Emilio Estefan having taken an ownership interest in Only in Dade. What will the hitmaker do with the biz?

Go deeper: See all 200 of Axios Local's Power Players in 2022


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