— Cristiano Ronaldo named ‘world’s most famous athlete’ in front of LeBron James and Lionel Messi… as Theo Walcott ranks above Lewis Hamilton
Cristiano Ronaldo has been named the most famous sportsperson in the world by ESPN
Cristiano Ronaldo is the most famous athlete in the world, according to a study by broadcaster ESPN.
The Real Madrid forward has beaten off competition from NBA superstar LeBron James and arch-nemesis Lionel Messi to sit top of the rankings, which are compiled using a tailored algorithm.
Eight British athletes make the top 100 of the ESPN World Fame 100, with Theo Walcott sitting in 79th – five ahead of 84th-placed Lewis Hamilton.
And stars from the world of football, golf, basketball, cricket, NFL, tennis, athletics and many other sports feature.
ESPN director of analytics Ben Alamar came up with the formula which controls the outcome of the list, with earnings, social media influence and Google search popularity all taken into account.
Joining Ronaldo, James and Messi in the top 10 are tennis ace Roger Federer, veteran golfer Phil Mickelson, Brazilian icon Neymar, world-record sprinter Usain Bolt, another NBA star in the shape of Kevin Durant and multiple Grand Slam champion Rafa Nadal.
In at 10, with the order finalised before his recent arrest on DUI charges in Florida, is Tiger Woods.
Footballers dominate the World Fame 100, with the sport claiming 38 of the positions available.
Of those 38, almost a third ply their trade in the Premier League – including Zlatan Ibrahimovic (26), Alexis Sanchez (29) and Wayne Rooney (31).
The most expensive player ever to play the game, Paul Pogba – himself a prolific presence on Twitter and Instagram – comes in at 40, behind Japanese tennis star Kei Nishikori (20) and two Indian cricketers in Virat Kohli and Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
Cricket has four entries in total, some way behind basketball (13), golf (11) and tennis (10).
There are representatives of table tennis, badminton, swimming, gymnastics, MMA, motorsport and NFL but no rugby players and only one boxer – Manny Pacquaio. Conor McGregor, the UFC fighter who may well move into the boxing ring to fight Floyd Mayweather Jnr, is ranked 25th.
Speaking of Mayweather, the algorithm does not take into account ‘retired’ athletes, hence the absence of the man they call ‘Money’ from this list.
Another UFC competitor, Ronda Rousey, is the highest-placed woman on the list at 16th. She leads a total of eight women, four of whom are tennis players.