2016 Most Popular Athletes - ESPN World Fame 100

ESPN have been calculating the world's most popular athletes since 2016, using a ranking based on a proprietary formula which factors online searches, salary and endorsements and social media followers. The winner of this inaugural list was footballer Cristiano Ronaldo. We have also listed the top ranked athlete from each sport and from each country that was on the list.



List of Top-10 most famous sports people of 2016

Here is the top-10 of the World's most famous sports people. Income and followers are listed as millions. Search popularity was also factored into the ranking. There were just eight women on the list, the highest ranked was Maria Sharapova at 18th.

Name Sport Nationality Winnings Endorsements Facebook Twitter
1. Cristiano Ronaldo Soccer Portugal 53 27 110.8 41.5
2. LeBron James Basketball USA 23 44 22.4 29.6
3 Lionel Messi Soccer Argentina 52 22 84.3 13.5
4 Neymar Soccer Brazil 12 17 56.4 22.1
5 Roger Federer Tennis Switzerland 9 58 14.5 4.7
6 Kevin Durant Basketball USA 20 35 10.1 13.5
7 Tiger Woods Golf USA 1 50 3.1 5.7
8 Virat Kohli Cricket India 7 18 28.3 10.7
9 James Rodriguez Soccer Colombia 10 5 29.7 9.6
10 Rafael Nadal Tennis Spain 5 28 14.6 9.3

The Most Famous For Each Country

Here is the most famous sports people for each country in 2016, taken from the top 100 list. There were athletes from 15 different countries represented on the list, though more than half of the sports people were from the USA.

Nationality Name Sport Winnings Endorsements Facebook Twitter overall rank
Argentina Lionel Messi Soccer 52 22 84.3 13.5 3
Belgium Eden Hazard Soccer 15 4 8.6 4.4 42
Brazil Neymar Soccer 12 17 56.4 22.1 4
Canada Sidney Crosby Ice Hockey 12 5 .005 0.12 82
Colombia James Rodriguez Soccer 10 5 29.7 9.6 9
Dominican Republic David ortiz Baseball 16 4 1.9 1 78
England Wayne Rooney Soccer 18 7 25.5 12.8 17
Finland Kimi Raikkonen Auto Racing 17 2 0.33 - 97
Germany Mesut Ozil Soccer 10 7 29.9 10.6 19
India Virat Kohli Cricket 7 18 28.3 10.7 8
Ireland Conner McGregor MMA 1 3 3.4 1.4 37
Ivory Coast Yaya Toure Soccer 15 3 1.2 0.23 86
Jamaica Usain Bolt Athletics 0 21 17.1 4 15
Japan Kei Nishikori Tennis 4 15 0.64 0.33 47
Mexico Canelo Alvarez Boxing 20 2 1.4 0.57 84
New Zealand Lydia Ko Golf 3 4 0.02 0.04 81
Northern Ireland Rory McIlroy Golf 5 32 1.1 2.8 20
Philippines Manny Pacquiao Boxing 148 12 10.6 0.03 35
Portugal Cristiano Ronaldo Soccer 53 27 110.8 41.5 1
Russia Maria Sharapova Tennis 8 23 15.5 2.1 18
Scotland Andy Murray Tennis 8 16 3.4 3.6 31
Serbia Novak Djokovic Tennis 21 31 6.6 5.2 16
Spain Rafael Nadal Tennis 5 28 14.6 9.3 10
Sweden Zlatan Ibrahimovic Soccer 17 6 24.1 3.4 21
Switzerland Roger Federer Tennis 9 58 14.5 4.7 5
Ukraine Wladimir Klitschko Boxing 19 4 1.9 0.27 80
USA LeBron James Basketball 23 44 22.4 29.6 2
US Virgin Islands Tim Duncan Basketball 5 2 0.06 0.0004 90
Uruguay Luis Suarez Soccer 15 5 16.8 6.2 22
Venezuela Miguel Cabrera Baseball 22 3 0.003 0.7 88
Wales Gareth Bale Soccer 21 10 25.7 8 12

The most famous for each sport

Here is the most famous sports people for each sport taken from the top 100 list in 2016. On the top-100 list, basketball was the most highly represented sport with 20 players, next was soccer (17) and American Football (16).

Sport Name Nationality Winnings Endorsements Facebook Twitter overall rank
American Football Cam Newton USA 13 11 1.9 0.72 32
Athletics Usain Bolt Jamaica 0 21 17.1 4 15
Auto Racing Dale Earnhardt Jr. USA 15 9 2.9 1.4 57
Baseball Bryce Harper USA 3 4 0.3 0.6 71
Basketball LeBron James USA 23 44 22.4 29.6 2
Boxing Floyd Mayweather USA 300 15 12.7 6.8 26
Cricket Virat Kohli India 7 18 28.3 10.7 8
Golf Tiger Woods USA 1 50 3.1 5.7 7
Ice Hockey Alex Ovechkin Russia 10 4 0.13 2 65
MMA Ronda Rousey USA 3 4 10.9 2.3 23
Skateboarding Ryan Sheckler USA 2 1 34 2.7 64
Snowboarding Shaun White USA 0 2 2.4 1.5 76
Soccer Cristiano Ronaldo Portugal 53 27 110.8 41.5 1
Swimming Michael Phelps USA 0 6 7.7 1.6 46
Tennis Roger Federer Switzerland 9 58 14.5 4.7 5

References



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Lists Extra

Football/Soccer is clearly the world's most popular sport, and has the most popular athletes, but which sport has the fittest players (but not necessarily the greatest athlete). These players do not always earn the most. The best of the best have made it to our 7 Sporting Wonders Lists.

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