Sports stars around the world are idolized by their fans. Some enjoy God-like status with fans practically worshipping the ground they walk on. The modern-day athlete isn’t accessible like, perhaps, there were in yesteryear, so fans take to social media to interact with their heroes.
Social media is a big business for anyone who has a huge following. Companies’ pay influences vast sums of money for sponsored posts. Look at Kylie Jenner for example.
Jenner has more than 210 million Instagram followers and charges upwards of $1.2 million per sponsored post. Her following, however, pails into relative insignificance when compared to some of the sports’ biggest names.
Portuguese soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo is the world’s most popular social media star in the world. The talismanic forward is always among the favourites to score on the best betting apps in the world thanks to his phenomenal goalscoring record of 661 goals in 878 games, but he makes more money from sponsored posts than he does playing for Serie A team Juventus.
Ronaldo passed the 500 million followers mark earlier this week. To put that into context, Ronaldo has more followers than the entire population of the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom combined!
“Cristiano Ronaldo“ by Claudia Vila is licensed under CC BY 3.0
The 36-year-old has 124 million fans on Facebook, another 91 million followers on Twitter, one million subscribers on YouTube, and an almost unbelievable 261 million fans on Instagram. Only Instagram’s own account with 386 million followers has more than the soccer legend.
Ronaldo pulled in an incredible $57.88 million from Instagram in 2020, $19.45 more than his salary for leading the line at Italian outfit Juventus. Labels pay the Portuguese ace $1.35 million per sponsored post and he’s quite prolific, to say the least.
His stunning partner Georgina Rodriguez regularly frequents Ronaldo’s Instagram posts. She’s amassed 24 million in record time and is one of the platform’s fastest-growing influencers.
The debate on whether it is Ronaldo or Lionel Messi who is the greatest soccer star rumbles on, but Messi trails his arch-rival by quite the margin when it comes to social media followers. Messi boasts of 184 million Instagram followers and 90 million Facebook fans, for a total following of 265 million. Messi famously stays clear of Twitter, although he has never said why this is the case.
Messi hit the headlines for the wrong reasons recently. Someone leaked his FC Barcelona contract to the Spanish press, which revealed he will earn $682.22 million by the time his current four-year deal ends!
Brazilian sensation Neymar became the world’s most expensive soccer player when Paris St. Germain paid FC Barcelona a whopping $268.8 million for his services. He ranks third in the social media followers charts.
Neymar’s total following weighs in at just shy of 259 million thanks, in part to 146.7 million Instagram fans. Neymar’s loyal following and global reach earned him a lucrative sponsorship with online poker giants PokerStars.
James Rodriguez is the fourth most followed soccer star in the world with 96 million fans. Rodriguez has played for the likes of Real Madrid and Bayern Munich during a career that has spanned 15-years. He currently plies his trade with the English Premier League team, Everton.
Rodriguez is revered in his native Colombia, which is one of the reasons he has such a large fanbase. He was born in Cucuta, Colombia, the country’s sixth-largest city. It has a population of just over 710,000 with the entire county’s population being under 51 million, meaning Rodriguez has almost twice as many more social media fans than his country has residents!
“Cristiano Ronaldo” by Tony McArdle is licensed under CC BY 3.0
Welshman Gareth Bale has an 88 million strong following, placing him fifth in the current leaderboard. Like Ronaldo and Rodriguez above, Bale played for Real Madrid in Spain where the supporters of the team are nothing short of fanatical.
Bale commands the second-highest fee per sponsored post of anyone from the United Kingdom. Only David Beckham is paid more per post.