Fans around the world idolize professional athletes and sports stars. We watch their every move when they turn out for their respective teams and gain an insight into their lavish lifestyles through social media.
Instagram is extremely popular with sports stars. The visual social media platform gives the elite athletes somewhere they can interact with their legion of fans and make it possible to advertise their many endorsements. Some of the most followed accounts have an astronomical number of followers. For example, the five most popular Instagram sports stars have 883 million combined followers, which is 2.6-times as many followers as there are citizens in the United States!
Lebron James – 88 Million Followers
Basketball star LeBron James comes in at number five courtesy of his army of 88 million Instagram followers. The Los Angeles Lakers star is coming to the end of his long and illustrious career, being aged 36-years-old, but his social media influence is still going strong. James is one of the NBA’s all-time greats and a player who is consistently among the favorites with vegasbetting.com to be his team’s MVP.
James’ huge Instagram following has seen many of the world’s biggest brands use him to endorse their products. These include Nike, Beats, GMC, and AT&T.
Virat Kohli – 127 Million Followers
Cricket is massive in India, and its top players are revered with God-like status, which is why it is unsurprising to see one of India’s biggest cricket stars in the top five of the most followed Instagram sports stars.
Virat Kohli is the captain of the Indian national team and is regarded as one of the best batsmen on the planet. Time magazine named Kohli as one of the 100 most influential people globally in 2018, with Forbes ranking Kohli 66th in its top 100 highest-paid athletes feature.
Kohli’s biggest endorsement deal comes from Indian multinational tire manufacturer Madras Rubber Factory, who have their logo on Kohli’s bat, and his $15 million eight-year deal with Puma.
Neymar Jr. – 152 Million Followers
Neymar da Silva Santos Junior, or Neymar as he is better known, is a Brazilian soccer star who currently plies his trade for the French side Paris St. Germain. The French club paid €222 million ($269.11 million) to Barcelona to secure Neymar’s services in 2017, making him the world’s most expensive soccer player.
The Brazilian is one of the highest-paid athletes in the world thanks to commanding a €36.9 million ($44.73 million) salary. However, he makes an additional €18 million ($21 million) from a raft of endorsement deals, including Puma, Red Bull, Gilette, and Beats Electronic.
Lionel Messi – 218 Million Followers
Argentinian soccer star Lionel Messi is the second-most famous sports star on Instagram with 218 million followers. The player many pundits and fans consider to be the greatest of all time earns a basic weekly salary of €565,000 ($610,000) plus an incredible $33 million worth of sponsorship payments each year.
Messi is highly marketable, which is why Adidas signed him to a lifetime deal. Budweiser producers Anheuser Busch, Gatorade, and Pepsi, are just three other major brands you see Messi put his name to.
Cristiano Ronaldo – 298 Million Followers
Cristiano Ronaldo is sports’ king of Instagram courtesy of a 298 million-strong following. Ronaldo is also active on Facebook and Twitter, which take his total number of social media followers past 500 million!
In 2020, Ronaldo became the first active team-sport athlete to surpass $1 billion in earnings! Ronaldo’s massive €31 million ($37.58 million) basic salary and incredible $70 million worth of sponsorship deals make him the highest-paid athlete in the world.
Nike and Tag Heuer are Ronaldo’s biggest clients, although he has his CR7 fashion brand and a chain of hotels in his native Portugal.