Athletes have been role models and influencers for generations. Their talent, commitment to excellence, and passion has inspired millions. In the past, professional athletes had the most influence. But in the digital age, even those who don’t sign a lucrative sports contract can have tremendous influence in the sports world. Check out how these top sports influencers engage with their fans.
25 Top Sports Influencers
With 29 million subscribers on YouTube, Dude Perfect is one of the top sports influencers on social media. The Dude Perfect team isn’t made up of professional athletes who were already household names. Instead, they quickly rose in popularity through their combination of trick sports shots and comedy.
Cristiano Ronaldo is arguably one of the best and certainly most popular soccer players in the world. As one of the world’s top sports influencer, he has 124 million followers on Instagram and 72.6 million followers on Twitter, giving him tremendous reach. His influence is so great that he racked up nearly $1 billion in revenue for his sponsors through social media, according to Forbes.
Kelly Slater is a pro surfer who has won 11 world championships and graced the covers of numerous magazines throughout his career. In addition to using social media to talk about sports, the top sports influencer also advocates for a clean lifestyle. He has 2.2 million fans on Instagram, 1.8 million on Facebook, and nearly one million more following him on Twitter.
Though he is retired from professional soccer, David Beckham is still considered one of the greats. As one of the top sports influencers he has more than 43.9 million Instagram followers to whom he shares images of his life and soccer, and other sports-related content. He’s collaborated with several major brands (including underwear and cologne companies) and charitable causes.
Ryan Sheckler started his skateboarding career as a child, and has since grown to become one of the top sports influencers on social media. He posts photos and videos of skateboarding and his daily life to two million followers on Instagram. He’s collaborated with several major brands, including LG.
With four Olympic medals and 23 grand slam titles in tennis, Serena Williams is one of the most successful athletes in history. She’s also a top sports influencer, with 7.9 million Instagram followers, and 10.9 million more on Twitter. She has partnered with brands like Nike, Beats By Dre, and others.
He might be a big name in Hollywood now, but many fans have been fans since Dwayne Johnson’s early days in professional wrestling. The top sports influencer shares his life and promotes himself and his brand to his 105 million Instagram followers and over 58 million Facebook fans. His posts are personal and have an genuine voice, making him a powerful voice on social media.
Simone Biles shares her life both inside and outside of the gym with her 3.4 million Instagram followers. She’s a gymnast with five Olympic medals under her belt, and her sights set on more. As a top sports influencer, she’s collaborated with brands like Coca-Cola, Beats By Dre, and others.
With 41.5 million Twitter followers and 36.8 million Instagram followers, LeBron James is a shining star on social media (and in the NBA, of course). As one of the top sports influencers, his social media value is numbered in the millions of dollars, according to Forbes. As a top sports influencer, he’s partnered with Nike, Samsung, and Beats By Dre.
Professional tennis player Roger Federer is one of the top sports influencers, and also one of the highest paid when it comes to endorsements. He connects with 12.5 million fans on Twitter and 4.9 million fans on Instagram, where he shares his experiences and sports content. His past partnerships include Wilson, Nike, and Gillette.
By breaking numerous world records in swimming, Michael Phelps quickly became an icon in the sports world. The top sports influencer has 3.3 million Instagram followers and 2.25 million Twitter followers, giving him tremendous reach on social media. His accounts focus on family and sports, making him a good partner for brands like Colgate and Little Tykes.
Brodie Smith is a four-time Ultimate Frisbee champion who shares tutorials, trick shots, and his travels to 1.9 million subscribers on YouTube. As one of the top sports influencers, his videos have had more than 290 million views, giving him a large reach in a relatively small sport.
Lindsey Vonn is active on social media with 1.5 million Instagram followers and one million Twitter followers. She is an Olympic gold medalist, and is the first American female athlete to take home the gold in downhill skiing. She posts about her grueling training schedule, but is funny and relatable too.
With more than 44 million Facebook followers, John Cena is one of the top sports influencers. He shares photos and videos related to WWE, as well as other campaigns he works on, such as the Make-a-Wish Foundation.
By taking a knee during the national anthem during an NFL game, Colin Kaepernick became one of the most influential people in sports. With this attention, he gained 2.4 million Instagram fans and 1.79 million Twitter followers — with whom he shares his message, and other causes that are important to him.
With 90.3 million Instagram followers, Lionel Messi is one of the top sports influencers in the world, and among the top Instagrammers. He shares training photos and pictures of his family with soccer fans all over the world.
Despite the fact that Michael Jordan hasn’t played professional sports in years, he’s still one of the most influential people in sports. His name is synonymous with greatness, which is why many brands and companies continue to partner with him decades after he left the NBA.