Most Influential Sport Stars

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SPORT stars are some of the most influential figures out there, yet despite its global success the tungsten tossing oche has som ke way to to copmpete with the football field, the octagon or the gridiron.

Cristiano Ronaldo boasts the most Instagram followers of anyone in the world – 459 million. Whereas our own superstars are a little behind – MVG is within touching distance of 500,000 X (formerly twitter) followers.

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But which sports stars are the most influential?

Of course, Cristiano Ronaldo tops the list by a long shot with the former Manchester United and Real Madrid man having a monthly search volume of 11 million. The world-famous goal scorer also earns around £93.8 million a year. ‘Soccer’ as some would have it features strongly with Lionel Messi also on the list and likely to claim with his mega move Miami.

Closely following Ronaldo in second place, with around five million fewer monthly searches per month, is the New Orleans Saints offensive tackle Ryan Ramczyk with 6.1m monthly searches as he earns £31.7 million annually.

American football offers several other members of this list and as a result is probably most influential all around.

Who else makes the top ten?

  1. Cristiano Ronaldo – 11m searches

The Manchester United forward totally dominates the top searches list, with a whole five million more searches than the next most-searched sports star. Arguably one of the greatest football players of all time, Ronaldo clearly has a huge influence on many with 11 million monthly searches.

Still at peak performance at 37 years old, Ronaldo has had an astonishing career playing for top teams such as Man United, Real Madrid and Juventus as well as being a staple for Portugal’s national team. 

  1. Ryan Ramczyk – 6.1m searches

Coming in at not a very close second is NFL pro Ryan Ramczyk, the offensive tackle player for the New Orleans Saints with 6.1 million searches. Ramczyk is fairly new to football, having only made his professional NFL debut in 2017. 

The offensive tackle was named as an All-Pro for 2 consecutive years in 2018 and 2019 and now earns a whopping £31.7 million a year. Not bad for someone who’s only had 5 years of pro experience. 

  1. Neymar – 5.8m searches

This Brazilian football master, Neymar Jr ranks 3rd place with 5.8 million searches. The PSG forward also rakes in £63.2 million per month and has 174 million Instagram followers.

The striker is the second highest goal scorer for the Brazilian national team, closely tailing Pele. Neymar is best remembered for being part of an iconic Barcelona attacking trio which also featured Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.

  1. LeBron James – 5.3m searches

Easily the most loved and well-known basketball player of all time, the LA Lakers player LeBron James has 5.3 million monthly searches to his name. He is the second highest earning athlete in the world and the first in basketball earning £93.8 million per year.

In December 2021, the NBA star became the second player in NBA history (after Michael Jordan) to post 40 points and zero turnovers at age 35 or older.

  1. Lionel Messi – 4.5m searches

The Messi vs Ronaldo debate still continues to divide football fans after many years, but whilst Ronaldo might be more influential, Messi currently earns money and is the highest paid athlete in the world, earning £106 million per year.

With 4.5 million searches a month, the Argentinian forward has just finished his first season at PSG with his old strike partner, Neymar, who he played alongside at Barcelona. Messi is often considered one of the all-time greatest soccer stars with a record breaking 7 Ballon d’Or awards and 6 golden boots to his name.

  1. Tom Brady – 4.3m searches

The seven time Superbowl champion, Tom Brady comes in at number six with 4.3 million searches to his name. The NFL quarterback has had 2 years with his current team Tampa Bay Buccaneers so far after spending 20 years with the New England Patriots.

Brady is the 9th richest athlete in the world earning around £68.4 million per year. Only £26m is made from the sport, whilst he earns another £42.4m off the field.

  1. Lewis Hamilton – 3.9m searches

Currently competing for Mercedes, seventh-placed Lewis Hamilton has won a joint-record seven World Drivers’ Championship titles (tied with Michael Schumacher), and holds the records for the most wins, pole positions, and podium finishes, among others.

With 3.9m monthly searches, Hamilton is the seventh most influential athlete and the seventeenth highest earner, making around £53 million annually. 

  1. Max Verstappen – 3.8m searches

Hot on Lewis Hamilton’s heels is his newcomer F1 rival Max Verstappen. Belgian-Dutch, Verstappen was the winner of last year’s Formula One World Championship after overtaking Hamilton in the final race. Driving for Red Bull Racing, he’s recently extended his Red Bull contract until 2028.

Despite being much younger than his rival Hamilton, Verstappen is catching up to equalling his influence with just 100k less monthly searches than Hamilton. He now earns around £39.2 million per year.

  1. Aaron Rodgers – 3.7m searches

At number nine is NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Having turned pro in 2005, Rodgers spent his career playing for the Green Bay Packers and has a plethora of awards to his name, including winning the Superbowl with the Packers in 2010. 

With 3.7 million searches a month, Rodgers is clearly a sought after NFL player and is the 14th highest paid athlete earning £55.5 million per year. 

  1. Conor McGregor – 3.1m searches

Sneaking into the top ten with 3.1 million monthly searches is Irish MMA fighter, Conor McGregor. The former UFC featherweight and lightweight double-champion is also the first UFC fighter to hold championships in 2 weight classes simultaneously.

The UFC fighter earns around £35 million per year, and is the biggest pay-per-view draw in MMA history, having headlined five out of the six highest-selling UFC pay-per-view events.

His headline match with Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 229 drew 2.4 million PPV buys, the highest ever for an MMA event.


Images: PDC Europe / As supplied

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