Some athletes are so good at what they do that they become incredibly popular across the world – and not always for their ability in the pitch, court, or rink. In the modern framework of social media, it’s a bit easier to gauge the overwhelming popularity of some of these athletes, with platforms like Instagram giving top athletes yet another revenue stream.
There are three distinctly popular athletes on Instagram in terms of their worldwide following, with all three – unsurprisingly – also being the highest-earning active athletes on Instagram. While they are already dominant now, they’re still set to enhance their following and social media revenues if they live up to expectations this season.
Most-followed athletes on Instagram, worldwide
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that footballers are the most-followed athletes on Instagram worldwide, with the fourth most-followed being a long-retired athlete, David Beckham. According to the latest figures of January 2020, Cristiano Ronaldo of Juventus and Portugal, Lionel Messi of Barcelona and Argentina, and Neymar of Paris Saint-Germain and Brazil are by far the most popular athletes on Instagram in terms of number of followers.
With Beckham in fourth at 60.2 million followers, Neymar brings up the rear of the top three with a massive 131.3 million. Next is Lionel Messi on 140.6 million, and then there’s the indomitable Ronaldo on 197.2 million.
Top social media moneymakers
According to the figures from Forbes, Cristiano Ronaldo is by the biggest earner on Instagram of all celebrities – not just athletes – pulling in $47.8 million on average per year. In second is yet another athlete, Lionel Messi, who makes $23.3 million from the social media platform.
Despite his immense popularity, Neymar doesn’t appear to be utilising his power on social media as much as he could, regarding revenues, as he’s much further down the chart, making $7.2 million annually. Between Neymar and Messi are Selena Gomez ($8 million), David Beckham ($10.7 million), and Kendall Jenner ($15.9 million).
The top earners will only get more popular
With success comes popularity, and the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar, and Lionel Messi are all in line for a big chunk of success this season. When athletes succeed, people now turn to platforms like Instagram to follow the celebrations and see their behind-the-scenes antics after winning major tournaments.
All three of these stars of the football pitch and Instagram are currently still competing in the biggest continental tournament in domestic football: the UEFA Champions League. All of them have made it to the knockout stages, but Messi is currently given the best chance to win the trophy. According to the odds at sports betting NetBet, Barcelona are at 5/1 to win, with Paris Saint-Germain at 7/1, and the ever-popular Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus back at 11/1.
If Messi, Neymar, or Ronaldo win the Champions League this season, you can guarantee that even more people will follow them on Instagram. Furthermore, with more followers, they’re bound to bring in more revenue from the social media platform.
All three are also primed for success in their domestic leagues as well. In Serie A, Juventus has reclaimed the top of the Italian league and lead by four points at the 20-game mark. Barcelona have edged ahead of Real Madrid by the 20-game mark, on goal difference, but are expected to kick on and claim the La Liga title. In France, Neymar and PSG are dominating again, leading by seven points 20 games into the campaign.
This generation of football superstars dominate on the pitch and social media, but each of them could grow even more in power by the end of this season when they add more silverware to their cabinets.