ESPN Names Cristiano Ronaldo as the Most Famous Athlete in the World

ESPN's Sports Analytics Group ranked stars based on social media followers and endorsement dollars.

Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid reacts during the UEFA Champions League 2017-18 match between Real Madrid and APOEL FC at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on 13 September 2017 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Power Sport Images/Getty Images)
Getty Images

For the third straight year, ESPN’s Sports Analytics Group has determined Cristiano Ronaldo is the most famous athlete in the world, followed by LeBron James and Lionel Messi.

To reach that conclusion, ESPN’s analysts started out with 600 of the biggest names in sports and whittled that down to 100 names using a formula that takes social media followers, search score and endorsement dollars into account.

Following Ronaldo, James and Messi on the 2018 ESPN World Fame 100 are Neymar, Roger Federer, Tiger Woods, Kevin Durant, Rafael Nadal, Stephen Curry and Phil Mickelson.

Other notable names include Conor McGregor at No. 18, Tom Brady at No. 38, and Anthony Joshua at No. 46, J.J. Watt at No. 72, Rickie Fowler at No. 87 and Sania Mirza at No. 100.

Interestingly enough, not a single pro baseball player made the World Fame 100 list, but 10 cricketers were able to make the cut.

ESPN explained: “Remember, this is a global ranking of fame. Nine of the 10 cricketers are from India, whose population exceeds 1.3 billion. The Indian Premier League has a viewership of 316 million (which nearly equals the population of the U.S.). This helps explain why a star like Virat Kohli can have 37 million Facebook followers, almost 10 million more people than watched Game 7 of the 2017 World Series.”

Win the Ultimate Formula 1® Miami Grand Prix Experience

Want the F1 experience of a lifetime? Here’s your chance to win tickets to see Turn 18 Grandstand, one of Ultimate Formula 1® Miami Grand Prix’s most premier grandstands!