How do we measure who truly is “the most famous” athlete in the world? Do we look at an athlete’s success, the specific sport they play, their social media following,and/or the amount of brands they endorse? Well, ESPN has a formula.

This week, the sports conglomerate released its annual World Fame 100 Rankings using a formula that combined athlete endorsements with their social media following (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram) and Internet search popularity (Google Trends score). Interestingly enough, player salary was not used as a factor due to the salary cap differences among pro sports.

Cristiano Ronaldo was named the most famous athlete in the world, with LeBron James coming in second, Lionel Messi in third, Roger Federer in fourth (but had the most endorsement earnings), and Phil Mickelson in fifth. In total, thirty-eight soccer players, thirteen basketball players, eleven golfers, ten tennis players, eight football players, and twenty “other sports” athletes were a part of the list. Notably, there were no professional baseball or hockey players included, which is somewhat surprising as both sports are relatively global like the others, and the amount of soccer players included shows the sport’s continued growth and dominance from a global perspective, making us believe that it is only a matter of time before the sport enhances its popularity in the US.

One of the more interesting things to keep an eye on that has come from this is where Tiger Woods landed. When these rankings were calculated, Tiger came in at the Ten spot. However, because of his recent legal troubles, Tiger will likely be losing out on a handful of his brand partnerships, thus decreasing his endorsement earnings. However, his Google Trend score has likely skyrocketed as his name has been in the news cycle 24/7 since his arrest. Depending on how drastically his endorsements dive will determine if he remains a top ten world famous athlete.

written by bryan davidson, starpower account executive entertainment marketing

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