When you take the world of professional sports, one of the highest-grossing industries in the world and you partner it up with the world of social media, which by all means could easily be considered one of life’s biggest if not the biggest interaction platforms in the world, of course, that results of enormous proportions will arise. When professional athletes make a huge splash on social media, its effect is almost as big as that which Super Bowl odds experts have on NFL fans come game time. 

Thanks to social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok, Twitter, and others, as well as all other sorts of media interaction forms, professional athletes from different disciplines around the world have gone from being just athletes to becoming pivotal players in everyday life. Thanks to the massive following they have amassed throughout time, athletes have now become mainstream commodities not just in their line of work, but throughout everyday life dealings as well. But who are the most popular athletes in the world right now? Let’s take a look.

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Cristiano Ronaldo

You don’t need to be a soccer expert to know about Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese National Team and Manchester United soccer player can easily be considered one of the most popular public figures in the world. Throughout his whole playing career CR7 has amassed personal and team accolades wherever he has had the chance to play and after securing a move over the summer to his beloved Manchester United squad in England, the internet collectively lost its senses, seeing this move as the 2000’s version of the prodigal son returning home story. 

With a following on social media platforms that goes over 350 million followers, where people day to day are dazzled with CR7’s lavish lifestyle, highlight reels and tidbits of what day to day living is like for the Portuguese, he has managed to become the most popular soccer player and athlete in general on the internet.

Lionel Messi

Second to Cristiano Ronaldo, but almost just as popular, another soccer player and his longtime rival, Argentinian legend Lionel Messi. With over 270 million followers in his social media accounts and an overall image that made him a living legend not only in the sport of soccer but for both the city of Barcelona and his home country of Argentina, Messi is easily considered one of the most important characters in sports history. 

The former Barcelona player, now playing for French soccer giants PSG, brought the sporting world to a virtual stop when it was announced that he would be leaving Barcelona, the only soccer club he had ever played at to join PSG in Paris. The immediate after waves of the change were seen and felt instantly with Barcelona’s social media accounts falling greatly while PSG’s accounts rose to the ranks of some of the most popular in the world, all thanks to one person., that person being Lio Messi.

Lebron James

While the argument of who the greatest basketball player in the history of the NBA might be one that never comes to an end, with the likes of Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant all having a very serious claim to the throne, alongside other past legends as well, Lebron James can easily take the cake as the most popular basketball player in the world in actuality. Ever since joining the league, jumping straight into the pros from high school, James and the effect he’s had in the NBA has been all sorts of amazing.

While on the court, James can easily be considered one of the most dominating presences in the sport of basketball, with a social media fan base that amounts to over 100 million followers across all platforms, fans usually get to see the lighter more humane side of James. Known all over for being an instrumental character for different social causes like racial injustice, James has become an all-star not only on the court but off it as well.

Virat Kohli

While the name of Virat Kohli is not one that necessarily rings a bell amongst American or western sports fans in general, in India, the name of this beloved cricket player is just as important as talking about Cristiano Ronaldo, Messi, or Lebron James. Virat Kohli is considered by many as one of the most important cricket players not only in the history of India but in the history of the sport in general. With almost 160 million followers and all his social media accounts, Kohli has become cricket’s most recognizable athlete.

In India, having Virat Kohli as a part of any marketing or ad campaign, automatically means that the level of exposure and reach amongst cricket fans will automatically be a ravishing success. While his career playing cricket has only spanned 11 years, it has been enough to make him one of the most popular sporting figures in the world.