We all know that many professional athletes are millionaires. Professional sports like soccer, football, basketball, and even combat sports, attract global audiences. They earn obscene amounts of money, so it is only fair for the athletes who give us all the action to get their share of the pie. Forbes magazine publishes a list of the highest-paid athletes each year. Many of them have made staggering amounts of money over the past year. But I believe a more important factor to judge the stature of an athlete is how many people know about them. In other words, their global recognition is a great measure of their success and popularity.
The World’s Most Popular Athletes in 2021
We all have access to residential internet services because of affordable prices like Spectrum Internet prices. Many of us use them for work, learning, and entertainment. Social media use is a big part of our lives, which is obvious thanks to the billions of active users these platforms see every day. Businesses, celebrities, and politicians all use social media to engage with audiences. So it makes sense for athletes to do the same. After all, a huge Instagram following can come in really handy when it comes to endorsements. But even so, many of the athletes in the list below have acquired huge followings thanks purely to their dedication to the sport:
Lionel Messi is easily one of the most recognizable names in football (the soccer version). The Argentine national has been a steady fixture in FC Barcelona. With his mind-boggling speed and agility, Leo has become a household name everywhere people watch soccer. There is no other way to say it, Lionel Messi is a living legend and a huge crowd attraction.
Back on our side of the Atlantic, LeBron James is perhaps one of the most iconic American athletes still active today. “King” James is the undisputed ruler of the basketball court, with 4 MVP awards already under his belt. Having played for the Cavaliers and Miami Heat, LeBron currently leads the LA Lakers. The 3-time NBA champion has earned a global following to rival the great Michael Jordan.
If there is one soccer athlete that can rival Leo Messi, it is the great Cristiano Ronaldo. CR7 has 5 Ballon d’Or to his name, which tells you exactly how good he is. Right up there with Messi in terms of popularity and net worth, Cristiano Ronaldo has worked very hard to get where he is. After a significant stint with fierce Barcelona rival Real Madrid, CR7 transferred over to the Italian Serie A and now plays for Juventus.
Pro-tennis fans will remember the intense rivalry between the two greats, Roger Federer vs. Rafael Nadal. However, it was also during this time that a young man named Novak Djokovic began displaying a lot of promise. Today, Novak has won 17 Grand Slam titles and is also the world’s Number 1 professional tennis player. He has won the US Open three times, Wimbledon five times, and the French Open once. He also holds a tennis record for winning the Australian Open a whopping eight times.
Lionel Messi’s fellow FC Barcelona teammate Neymar Jr is an intensely popular star, especially among the youth of his home country Brazil. The young star has been playing club football since the age of 11, starting with FC Santos. He debuted professionally for the same club at age 17. After transferring to FC Barcelona, he has won the UEFA Champions League, the Copa Del Rey, and the Spanish La Liga. Neymar Jr currently plays for Paris Saint-Germain FC after setting the record for the most expensive transfer deal history at the time.
Serena Williams is one of the best professional tennis players in the world (regardless of gender). However, she has also grown larger than the sport to become one of the most influential and inspiring female athletes of all time, not just women’s tennis. Serena Williams and her sister Venus are credited with creating a new, dominant age for women’s tennis in the Open Era. She still holds the record for the most number of Grand Slam wins in Open Era professional tennis.
Haven’t seen many of these athletes lately? It could be because you’re restricting yourself to an on-demand streaming service. Live sports still primarily remains the domain of cable and PPV. Click here to check out TV plans with the best sports coverage in their lineup. With channels like ESPN, you can also get access to on-demand archival footage with ESPN+. Follow your favorite athletes in action.