Soccer Players Top ESPN Ranking of 100 Famous Athletes

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By JACK BELL

Soccer players occupy more than one-third of the spots in ESPN’s 2017 “World Fame 100,” a ranking of the world’s most famous athletes.

Cristiano Ronaldo is No. 1 in the world, with Lionel Messi at No. 3. In all, there are 38 soccer players on the list, but only one — Hope Solo — from the United States. LeBron James of the National Basketball Association’s Cleveland Cavaliers was No. 2 on the list.

The survey of ESPN’s second such list was conducted by Ben Alamar, ESPN’s director of analytics. He used a formula that combines endorsements with social media following and internet search popularity.

After the 38 soccer players in the ranking, basketball was second (13), followed by golf (11), tennis (10) and American football (8). There were 20 more players from other sports, with the notable absence of any baseball or ice hockey players. Cricket has four on the list; MMA has three.

The list is composed of 92 men and 8 women; the United States had the most athletes (35) on the list, followed by Brazil (9) and Germany (7).

The ranking calls Ronaldo, a star from Portugal who plays for Real Madrid, “The King of Social Media.” It’s an impressive list: Facebook followers, 118 million; Instagram, 93 million; Twitter, 50 million — a total of 261 million followers on social media.

In soccer, Brazil and Germany (7) are tops, followed France and England (3), Argentina, Spain and Colombia (2).


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