This was the year the world was supposed to go back to normal.
A quick scan of the headlines from the past 12 months — starting with the ones The Post’s readers clicked on most — tell a story that’s anything but.
From celebrity drama — the slap heard around the world! — to Omicron’s last stand, to the biggest story in sports (Tom and Gisele’s break–up, obviously), to out-of-control inflation, plus so many gripping and sometimes tragic headlines from here at home and abroad, Post readers were right there as 2022 went off the rails in grand style.
That is, of course, if they weren’t transfixed by the latest optical illusion.
Let’s take a closer look at the most popular NYPost.com and PageSix.com stories of the year — the ones that had everyone reading, commenting and sharing, all year long.
The top stories
The Will Smith story everyone remembers is the one where the not-so-Fresh Prince slapped comedian Chris Rock at the 2022 Oscars, but the one everyone actually clicked on — making this the top news story of the year, drumroll please — was Jada Pinkett Smith revealing that she was forced into marrying her hubby by family members, and that she cried during their “horrible” ceremony.
And how about Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez getting back together? The most talked-about story was surely the couple’s heavily covered Georgia wedding, and yet the second most-clicked piece of news on the site this year was the initial report that Affleck’s 10-year-old son with Jennifer Garner, Samuel, dinged a $250,000 Lamborghini Urus on an exotic car lot in Los Angeles. (Neither child nor car were seriously harmed.)
The weirdest headlines
This year, some of the most-read stories were some of the most eyebrow-raising as well; in the No. 3 spot for news was the not-too-clever woman who deliberately wore a skimpy bikini to Disney World in the hopes of getting a free shirt to cover up her less-than-family-friendly look; the move backfired when cast members ordered her to cover up — at her own expense.
Wilder still, and chiming in at No. 4, was the British OnlyFans star who claims to have the most heavily-tattooed private parts in the world. Becky Holt, 34, estimates she has spent upwards of $34,000 decorating herself from head to toe.
Also topping the charts was the 83-year-old nutrition expert from Argentina who fathered a child with his 35-year-old wife; the herd of sheep in China caught on surveillance wandering in a circle for 12 straight days in November; and “If I Stay” star Chloe Grace Moretz admitting in September that a “cruel” “Family Guy” meme about her legs turned her into a recluse.
There was also a compelling theory from an astrophysicist that alien technology might have fallen in the Pacific Ocean some time ago. It was one of the most shared stories on The Post’s Facebook page.
Celebrities behaving badly
Page Six readers seemed to be deeply concerned for model Cara Delevingne last September when the “Only Murders in the Building” star was seen looking disheveled and acting highly erratic at a Los Angeles area airport, with her feet hanging out of a Chevy Suburban.
Facebook users wouldn’t stop sharing — or commenting on — crazy footage that appeared to show former heavyweight Mike Tyson allegedly punching the lights out of pestering airplane passenger Melvin Townsend III after a water bottle was supposedly thrown at the boxing legend in April.
When Balthazar owner Keith McNally banned late-night host James Corden from the famed Soho eatery in October, calling the funnyman “the most abusive customer to my Balthazar servers since the restaurant opened 25 years ago,” other restaurant insiders dished the dirt on their tangles with badly behaved celebrities over the yeas.
News that Johnny Depp won his defamation case over ex-wife Amber Heard in early summer echoed as one of The Post’s top shared Facebook posts of 2022. Following the verdict, Depp was given a standing ovation at London’s Royal Albert Hall, a moment Post Instagram followers couldn’t stop sharing. Meanwhile, the girthy details emerging from a court question to Depp’s bodyguard regarding the anatomy of the “Donnie Brasco” star’s penis was the most shared Instagram Page Six post of the year.
Jason Sudeikis and Olivia Wilde were top searches on Page Six as the once happy couple’s relationship collapsed worse than Ted Lasso’s AFC Richmond team. They endured a highly messy and public end to their engagement, one highlighted by Wilde’s affair with Harry Styles and drama surrounding a special salad dressing she made for the singer last fall. Styles himself was another top search both the Post and Page Six.
But the No. 1 spot for Page Six searches in 2022 goes to none other than pariah Kanye West, particularly during his downright ugly split from Kim Kardashian – another perennial Post and Page Six favorite. Pete Davidson spent much of the year trending, with Kim falling into the Staten Islander’s arms amid the Ye fallout.
The most clicked pics
The promise of a photo of Johnny Depp needing assistance while attempting to leave a hotel saw a Page Six collection of star snaps rocket to the top of the photo charts for 2022 — well ahead of the reveal from the Ben Affleck-Jennifer Lopez wedding in August. That gallery came in at second place, just ahead of an eyebrow-raising mountain of photographic evidence from the infamous Depp-Heard trial.
The big sports stories
Stories on speculation of a turnover on vows between un-retired Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen were all major reads on last summer ahead of their fall divorce. Both the seven-time Super Bowl champ and supermodel were top searches on The Post and Page Six amid the off-field drama.
2022 may have ended back in October for the Mets, but when it came to top-searched sports teams this year, the Amazins bowed to nobody, coming in at No. 1, possibly due to owner Steve Cohen spending a fortune to acquire top-notch talent — like pitcher Justin Verlander — this offseason. Recent news that the team had acquired the Twins’ Carlos Correa for $315 million crushed Mets-related traffic records, as did a story about GM Billy Eppler’s strategy at the trade deadlines in October.
It was a harsh fall at the Barclays Center as the Brooklyn Nets endured a PR disaster over anti-Semitic comments by star guard Kyrie Irving. Things got even messier when head coach Steve Nash, another hot search on The Post, was let go from the team merely days later and ultimately replaced with assistant coach Jacque Vaughn.
The big headlines
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last February had the world’s — and readers’ — undivided attention. Post followers particularly paid attention to acts of bravery from the Ukrainian forces, such as a soldier who blew himself up on a bridge to prevent a Russian advance. That, along with the boycott of Russian vodka and Julian Lennon singing “Imagine” for a Ukraine fundraiser were some of the top Facebook shared Post stories of the year.
The tragic school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, on May 24, resulted in 21 senseless deaths and broke the hearts of many readers. Days later, shooter Salvador Ramos’ mother broke her silence, asking for forgiveness for her son’s evil-doing. It was one of the most commented stories on The Post’s Instagram.
The financial crisis and skyrocketing inflation was another hot topic readers searched for. One of The Post’s most read stories was the unbelievable tale of a financially struggling Georgia family moving into a Home Depot shed over the summer.
Elon Musk and Twitter
The fluctuating richest man in the world — who was rumored to have not had sex in ages — and current Twitter boss Elon Musk was an incredibly popular search on The Post amidst his takeover of the social media platform in November.
Musk also made headlines by releasing the “Twitter files” of backdoor dealings showing the site’s shady history — including banning The Post for reporting accurate information on Hunter Biden.
The Post’s top-commented Facebook post was Jameela Jamil vowing to leave the platform when Musk — who has recently announced he will step down as CEO — first took over in April. The July news that Musk’s father, Errol, had a secret love child with his step-daughter, Jana Bezuidenhout, was another top read.
What’s Gucci, Gen Z?
The kids these days! The latest and possibly not the greatest generation was a hit topic with Post readers this year.
Gen Z ladies growing out their armpit and body hair for a sense of “sexy” empowerment last March was one of the most commented Facebook posts The Post saw this year.
“It’s sexy?? To whom?” wrote one commenter. Another noted: “everyone saying it’s gross have been brain washed by modern society run by males who believe they have the right to set beauty standards.”
Many eyes were on stories about the young-uns cancelling the thumbs-up emoji and happy hour as well.
Post readers most wanted to test their own mental wits this year. An optical illusion in which two tigers were etched into a jungle illustration was the site’s biggest hit of 2022. While one tiger was in plain sight, a second jungle cat remained crouched in the background, challenging the minds of many readers last June.
Alongside the crouching tiger, readers couldn’t get enough of the brainteasers — several were among The Post’s most-read stories of 2022.
There was this hidden elephant; an image that revealed if you had either male or female brain tendencies; and this yellow ink blot that betrayed a key personality trait.