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Top 10 Most Popular Sports Figures In The World

The Most Beloved Sports Figures

July 14, 2014

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Lionel Messi, Barcelona – We know soccer is a global sport and probably the most popular sport overall. Well, Messi is not only the best soccer player in the world at the moment, but many consider him to be the greatest of all time. Messi is only 27 years old and has 354 club goals, scoring no less than 41 in the last five seasons for Barcelona. That doesn’t even include the dozens of records Messi holds, the individual awards and the gold medal he won with Argentina in 2008. Messi is the most recognizable face in soccer, which by far makes him one of the most popular sport figures in the word.

LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers – James has topped the NBA jersey sales list now six times in his career, which says something with Kobe Bryant still in the league. Remember what we just went through with the James watch during NBA free agency? Yeah, it had a little something to do with him being arguably the biggest NBA name since Michael Jordan. James is doing dozens of commercials for various companies, he’s raking in a ton of cash with endorsements and everybody watches nearly his every move. Now that James is back with the Cavs, he’ll be in good graces with most NBA fans and his popularity and brand will grow even larger.

Top 10 Most Popular Sports Figures In The World

Floyd Mayweather, Boxing - Mayweather has made at least $25 million for each of his last nine fights since defeating Oscar De La Hoya in 2007, which happened to be the most-watched fight in the history of pay-per-view boxing. Mayweather’s fight against Canelo Alvarez grossed in more than $150 million in pay-per-view sales. People, this stuff doesn’t happen without insane popularity. Love him or hate him, Mayweather is by far the most popular boxer in the world with a 46-0 record, and he continues to make an argument for the best fighter of all-time. The Mayweather brand is through the roof and every fight he has is must-see television. It doesn’t get much bigger than Pretty Boy, right now.

Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid – Ronaldo has been one of soccer’s household names since Manchester United picked him up when he was 18 years old. Later on, Real Madrid singed Ronaldo to an outrageous $130 million contract. Ronaldo is often considered the most complete soccer player in the world and even at the age of 29 years old, he’s still scored a combined 106 club goals the last two seasons. Ronaldo is also Portugal’s all-time leading scorer with 50 goals, has won countless individual awards and holds numerous records for all of the teams he’s played on. Ronaldo and Messi are two soccer names even Americans know, which easily explains their popularity across the globe.

Usain Bolt, Sprinter – Although many only pay attention to Bolt every four years, you can count on one hand how many Olympians there are that are more popular than the Jamaican runner. Then again, Bolt does have nearly 3.5 million Twitter followers, so it seems like everybody wants to try and keep up with him during his off time. Bolt is widely considered the fastest person ever to walk the earth and has the records and has the six Olympic gold medals to prove it. Bolt is the highest paid athlete ever in track and field and Sports Pro Media called him the most marketable athlete in the world. Bolt has plenty of endorsements under his belt and is the only runner who can still break world records despite slowing down before the finish line.

Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers – Name it and Bryant has done it. He’s won two Olympic gold medals, five NBA championships, two NBA Finals MVPs and is a 16-time All Star. Bryant has been the highest paid NBA player the last four seasons and will continue to be so with his new contract from the Lakers. Popularity, everybody in America knows who this guy is, and Bryant is considered a rock star in China, as 10s of thousands lined up to catch a sneak peak of the star during a couple of exhibition games. Bryant is considered a top 10 player of all time and with how global the NBA is, there aren’t many who have never head of the Lakers star player.

Tiger Woods, Golfer – Although Woods hasn’t won much lately, he’s still by far the most popular golfer in the world and possibly in the sports history. The ratings don’t lie, more people watch golf events when Tiger is participating. Tiger has won the PGA Player of the Year more than anybody else, he has 13 Major Championships and 106 overall victories. Also, Golf Digest reported earlier in the year that Tiger has earned more than $1 billion throughout his career. Um, that doesn’t happen if you’re not known throughout the world.

Roger Federer, Tennis – Federer is widely considered the greatest tennis player ever and he’s still kicking at the age of 32 years old. Federer holds the record with 17 Grand Slam titles, 25 men’s major final appearances and 272 major match wins overall. Federer has done everything there is to do in tennis, and he always has an overwhelming following no matter where he plays. As far as endorsements are concerned, Federer has nearly a dozen of them that pay him a cool $40 million each year, putting him at the top of the list for highest paid tennis players nearly every season. Until Federer decides to turn in his racket, he’ll be one of the most popular sports figures in the world.  

Derek Jeter, New York Yankees – It’s hard not to include Jeter on this list considering he’s one of the best players in baseball history and has played the last two decades on arguably the most popular team in the world. Jeter is loved by everybody because he’s one of the few athletes who has never really been in any major controversy. No arrests, no ties to PEDs and always a classy player on and off the field. Jeter is one of the best shortstops who has ever played the game, and he has 14 All-Star trips, five World Series rings, a World Series MVP and five Gold Glove Awards. Jeter is the Yankees’ all-time leader in hits, games played, at bats and stolen bases. With accomplishments like that, it goes without saying that Jeter remains one of the most popular sports figures in the world. Well, that is until he retires at the end of this season.

Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers– Is it too soon to put Griffin on this list? I don’t think so. Griffin has emerged as one of the superstar players in the NBA and at the young age of 25 years old, he’s already a four-time All Star and three-time All-NBA second team. Griffin has at least one highlight dunk what seems like every night and sports networks make sure to show it over and over again. Griffin is also flooded with endorsements that include commercials for Kia and Subway. What’s scary is that Griffin’s brand is still growing and has the potential to hit an all-time high if he can lead the Clippers to an NBA Championship. Still, Griffin is quite popular around the world and one of the premier faces in the NBA.

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