The 20 most popular athletes in the world

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Denis Doyle/Getty Images

The list of the most famous athletes in the world is dominated by footballers, and no athlete is better known than Cristiano Ronaldo.

In the most recent issue of ESPN the Magazine, Ben Alamar, ESPN’s director of sports analytics, came up with a way to measure every top athlete’s fame. The formula uses earnings on and off the field, social-media popularity, and Google search popularity.

Below we take a closer look at the 20 best-known athletes; the list contains eight soccer players, four tennis players, three basketball players, three golfers, a cricket player, and a track star. You can see the entire list in ESPN the Magazine.


No. 20 Zlatan Ibrahimovic

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Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Sport: Soccer

Country: Sweden

Salary: $33.1 million

Endorsements: $6.0 million

Facebook likes: 24.3 million

Twitter followers: (does not have a Twitter page)


No. 19 Rory McIlroy

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Harry How/Getty Images

Sport: Golf

Country: Northern Ireland

Salary: $16.3 million

Endorsements: $32.0 million

Facebook likes: 1.1 million

Twitter followers: 2.9 million


No. 18 Mesut Özil

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Marco Luzzani/Getty Images

Sport: Soccer

Country: Germany

Salary: $12.8 million

Endorsements: $6.5 million

Facebook likes: 30.0 million

Twitter followers: 10.7 million


No. 17 Maria Sharapova

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REUTERS/Grigory Dukor

Sport: Tennis

Country: Russia

Salary: $6.7 million

Endorsements: $23.0 million

Facebook likes: 15.5 million

Twitter followers: 2.2 million


No. 16 Wayne Rooney

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Getty Images

Sport: Soccer

Country: England

Salary: $19.9 million

Endorsements: $7.0 million

Facebook likes: 25.4 million

Twitter followers: 12.9 million


No. 15 Novak Djokovic

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Scott Barbour/Getty

Sport: Tennis

Country: Serbia

Salary: $17.2 million

Endorsements: $31.0 million

Facebook likes: 6.6 million

Twitter followers: 5.3 million


No. 14 Usain Bolt

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Getty/Jed Jacobsohn

Sport: Track and Field

Country: Jamaica

Salary: $0 million

Endorsements: $21.0 million

Facebook likes: 17.2 million

Twitter followers: 4.0 million


No. 13 MS Dhoni

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Gareth Copley/Getty Images

Sport: Cricket

Country: India

Salary: $4.0 million

Endorsements: $27.0 million

Facebook likes: 18.4 million

Twitter followers: 5.4 million


No. 12 Phil Mickelson

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Jeff Gross/Getty

Sport: Golf

Country: United States

Salary: $2.8 million

Endorsements: $48.0 million

Facebook likes: (does not have a Facebook page)

Twitter followers: (does not have a Twitter page)


No. 11 Gareth Bale

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David Ramos/Getty Images

Sport: Soccer

Country: Wales

Salary: $25.5 million

Endorsements: $9.5 million

Facebook likes: 26.1 million

Twitter followers: 8.2 million


No. 10 Kobe Bryant

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Robert Hanashiro/USA Today Sports

Sport: Basketball

Country: United States

Salary: $25.0 million

Endorsements: $26.0 million

Facebook likes: 21.3 million

Twitter followers: 9.4 million


No. 9 Rafael Nadal

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Dan Istitene/Getty Images

Sport: Tennis

Country: Spain

Salary: $4.5 million

Endorsements: $28.0 million

Facebook likes: 14.7 million

Twitter followers: 9.4 million


No. 8 James Rodriguez

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Clive Rose/Getty Images

Sport: Soccer

Country: Colombia

Salary: $21.4 million

Endorsements: $4.5 million

Facebook likes: 30.1 million

Twitter followers: 9.7 million


No. 7 Tiger Woods

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Kevin C. Cox/Getty

Sport: Golf

Country: United States

Salary: $1.0 million

Endorsements: $50.0 million

Facebook likes: 3.1 million

Twitter followers: 5.8 million


No. 6 Kevin Durant

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Sam Greenwood/Getty

Sport: Basketball

Country: United States

Salary: $20.2 million

Endorsements: $35.0 million

Facebook likes: 10.2 million

Twitter followers: 13.6 million


No. 5 Roger Federer

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Ian Walton/Getty Images

Sport: Tennis

Country: Switzerland

Salary: $9.0 million

Endorsements: $58.0 million

Facebook likes: 14.5 million

Twitter followers: 4.8 million


No. 4 Neymar Jr.

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Reuters

Sport: Soccer

Country: Brazil

Salary: $14.7 million

Endorsements: $17.0 million

Facebook likes: 56.6 million

Twitter followers: 21.9 million


No. 3 Lionel Messi

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Alex Caparros/Getty Images

Sport: Soccer

Country: Argentina

Salary: $48.5 million

Endorsements: $22.0 million

Facebook likes: (does not have a Facebook page)

Twitter followers: (does not have a Twitter page)


No. 2 LeBron James

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Jason Miller/Getty

Sport: Basketball

Country: United States

Salary: $23.0 million

Endorsements: $44.0 million

Facebook likes: 22.5 million

Twitter followers: 31.2 million


No. 1 Cristiano Ronaldo

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Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty

Sport: Soccer

Country: Portugal

Salary: $52.2 million

Endorsements: $27.0 million

Facebook likes: 111.4 million

Twitter followers: 42.1 million


Now check out the world’s most dominant athletes.

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Samantha Lee/Business Insider

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