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Twitter: The Top 20 Professional Athletes with the Most Followers

Kevin StottSenior Analyst IJanuary 12, 2017

Twitter: The Top 20 Professional Athletes with the Most Followers

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    Social media is all the rage these days, and professional—as well as many amateur athletes, much to the chagrin of their coaches—can be found all over the Twitterverse.

    Here are the top 20 professional athletes in terms of Twitter followers based on numbers from TwitterCounters.com from Monday, March 26, 2012:

20 Carlos Puyol

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    NAME: Carlos Puyol

    SPORTS RANKING: 20

    WORLDWIDE RANKING: 207

    TWITTER ADDRESS: @Carlos5Puyol

    FOLLOW AT TWITTER URL: http://twitter.com/Carles5puyol

    SPORT-TEAM-LEAGUE: Soccer-Barcelona-La Liga

    FOLLOWERS: 2,446,408

    FOLLOWING: 84

    TWEETS: 1,010

    THE SKINNY: The first of three Barcelona players on the list (teammate and fellow defender Gerard Pique finished No. 21 and No. 208 worldwide, one spot behind Puyol), the curly headed veteran helped lead the Catalans to a UEFA Champions League win over Manchester United in last year’s finals, 3-1.

19 Rio Ferdinand

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    NAME: Rio Ferdinand

    SPORTS RANKING: 19

    WORLDWIDE RANKING: 200

    TWITTER ADDRESS: @rioferdy5

    FOLLOW AT TWITTER URL: http://twitter.com/rioferdy5

    SPORT-TEAM-LEAGUE: Soccer-Manchester United-English Premier League

    FOLLOWERS: 2,394,640

    FOLLOWING: 305

    TWEETS: 8,723

    THE SKINNY: Another vet defender squeezes into the Top 20 thanks to his solid career at Old Trafford.

18 Diego Forlan

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    NAME: Diego Forlan

    SPORTS RANKING: 18

    WORLDWIDE RANKING: 198

    TWITTER ADDRESS: @DiegoForlan7

    FOLLOWERS: 2,474,500

    FOLLOWING: 105

    TWEETS: 712

    THE SKINNY: The Uruguayan national standout, the blond-locked Forlan has taken his scoring prowess to Italy and Inter Milan this season from Atletico Madrid.

17 Serena Williams

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    NAME: Serena Williams

    SPORTS RANKING: 17

    WORLDWIDE RANKING: 189

    TWITTER ADDRESS: @serenawilliams

    FOLLOW AT TWITTER URL: http://twitter.com/serenawilliams

    SPORT-TEAM-LEAGUE: Women’s Professional Tennis

    FOLLOWERS: 2,553,790

    FOLLOWING: 2,212

    TWEETS: 10,173

    THE SKINNY: The only female in the Top 20, the younger Williams sister has seen her game drop of a bit the last couple years, but her presence in the social media world remains solid.

16 Floyd Mayweather

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    NAME: Floyd Mayweather

    SPORTS RANKING: 16

    WORLDWIDE RANKING: 178

    TWITTER ADDRESS: @FloydMayweather

    FOLLOW AT TWITTER URL: http://twitter.com/FloydMayweather

    SPORT-TEAM-LEAGUE: Professional Boxer

    FOLLOWERS: 2,564,789

    FOLLOWING: 60

    TWEETS: 2,421

    THE SKINNY: “Money” faces Miguel Cotto on May 5 here in Las Vegas, but the fight everyone is waiting for is with Manny Pacquiao. Mayweather effectively uses Twitter as a marketing tool, a spot to re-Tweet all the love he gets from his followers and a vehicle to show off big winning sports tickets like the one pictured above. Sometimes it's good to be Floyd.

15 Cesc Fabregas

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    NAME: Cesc Fabregas

    SPORTS RANKING: 15

    WORLDWIDE RANKING: 166

    TWITTER ADDRESS: @cesc4official

    FOLLOW AT TWITTER URLhttp://twitter.com/cesc4official

    SPORT-TEAM-LEAGUE: Soccer-Barcelona-La Liga

    FOLLOWERS: 2,729,058

    FOLLOWING: 70

    TWEETS: 1,545

    THE SKINNY: Another Barca player, Fabregas went to Spain this season after playing for Arsenal last season and has fit in well with Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and Xavi on the world’s most talented team.

14 Andres Iniesta

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    NAME: Andres Iniesta

    SPORTS RANKING: 14

    WORLDWIDE RANKING: 165

    TWITTER ADDRESS: @andresiniesta8

    FOLLOW AT TWITTER URLhttp://twitter.com/andresiniesta8

    SPORT-TEAM-LEAGUE: Soccer-Barcelona-La Liga

    FOLLOWERS: 2,722,148

    FOLLOWING: 34

    TWEETS: 288

    THE SKINNY: Yet another Barcelona star, this midfielder is a big reason why Messi scores so many goals every season at Camp Nou.

13 Lamar Odom

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    NAME: Lamar Odom

    SPORTS RANKING: 13

    WORLDWIDE RANKING: 162

    TWITTER ADDRESS: @RealLamarOdom

    FOLLOW AT TWITTER URL: http://twitter.com/RealLamarOdom

    SPORT-TEAM-LEAGUE: Basketball-Mavericks-NBA

    FOLLOWERS: 2,794,133

    FOLLOWING: 45

    TWEETS: 3,720

    THE SKINNY: Funny how Kobe Bryant isn’t on this list, but a guy like Odom is impressively high. Why? The Kardashian Bounce brother and  a reality TV show with wife Khloe. If there’s one family that knows how to Tweet, it’s the Kardashians with a litter of Twitterers.

12 Dwayne Wade

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    NAME: Dwayne Wade

    SPORTS RANKING: 12

    WORLDWIDE RANKING: 150

    TWITTER ADDRESS: @DwayneWade

    FOLLOW TWITTER URLhttp://twitter.com/DwyaneWade

    SPORT-TEAM-LEAGUE: Basketball-Heat-NBA

    FOLLOWERS: 2,848,176

    FOLLOWING: 339

    TWEETS: 4,507

    THE SKINNY: LeBron James’ running mate in South Beach, Wade has always been high on this list and could get to 3 million followers should the Heat win the NBA Championship in June.

11 Tony Hawk

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    NAME: Tony Hawk

    SPORTS RANKING: 11

    WORLDWIDE RANKING: 149

    TWITTER ADDRESS: @tonyhawk

    SPORT-TEAM-LEAGUE: Professional Skateboarder

    FOLLOWERS: 2,913,956

    FOLLOWING: 2,750

    TWEETS: 5,608

    THE SKINNY: One of the most decent people on this list, Hawk brought skateboarding into the mainstream and still has the skills to thrill even at his age.

10 Dwight Howard

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    NAME: Dwight Howard

    SPORTS RANKING: 10

    WORLDWIDE RANKING: 137

    TWITTER ADDRESS: @DwightHoward

    FOLLOW AT TWITTER URL: http://twitter.com/DwightHoward

    SPORT-TEAM-LEAGUE: Basketball-Magic-NBA

    FOLLOWERS: 3,102,156

    FOLLOWING: 7,554

    TWEETS: 16,300

    THE SKINNY: Howard has finally decided to stay put in Orlando and nobody on this list follows more people (7,554) than Superman does.

9 Chad Ochocinco

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    NAME: Chad Ochocinco

    SPORTS RANKING: 9

    WORLDWIDE RANKING: 126

    TWITTER ADDRESS: @ochocinco

    FOLLOW AT TWIITER URL: http://twitter.com/ochocinco

    SPORT-TEAM-LEAGUE: Football-NFL-Patriots

    FOLLOWERS: 3,324,574

    FOLLOWING: 1

    TWEETS: 34,486

    THE SKINNY: Although his talent on the gridiron has diminished, The Wide Receiver Formerly Known As Chad Johnson Tweets more than anyone on the list (34,486) and follows less people (1) than anyone also.

8 Lance Armstrong

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    NAME: Lance Armstrong

    SPORTS RANKING: 8

    WORLDWIDE RANKING: 117

    TWITTER ADDRESS: @lancearmstrong

    SPORT-TEAM-LEAGUE: Retired Cyclist

    FOLLOWERS: 3,357,729

    FOLLOWING: 352

    TWEETS: 8,633

    THE SKINNY: Another guy who has always been high on the world and sports Twitter lists, Armstrong’s struggle to overcome testicular cancer has earned him many devoted followers.

7 Ronaldinho

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    NAME: Ronaldinho

    SPORTS RANKING: 7

    WORLDWIDE RANKING: 115

    TWITTER ADDRESS: @10Ronaldinho

    FOLLOW AT TWITTER URL: http://twitter.com/10Ronaldinho

    SPORT-TEAM-LEAGUE: Soccer-Flamengo-Campeonato Brasileiro

    FOLLOWERS: 3,386,068

    FOLLOWING: 12

    TWEETS: 1,122

    THE SKINNY: The Brazilian wizard returned home this season after playing for AC Milan in Series A in Italy, and he has more followers than any other South America athlete other than Neymar.

6 Wayne Rooney

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    NAME: Wayne Rooney

    SPORTS RANKING: 6

    WORLDWIDE RANKING: 97

    TWITTER ADDRESS: @WayneRooney

    FOLLOW AT URL LINK: http://twitter.com/WayneRooney

    SPORT-TEAM-LEAGUE: Soccer-Manchester United-English Premier League

    FOLLOWERS: 3,676,761

    FOLLOWING: 83

    TWEETS: 800

    THE SKINNY: Rooney is the top-ranking Twitter athlete in England and is having another solid year for the Red Devils who are in a tight title race with rival Manchester City in the EPL.

5 Neymar

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    NAME: Neymar Junior

    SPORTS RANKING: 5

    WORLDWIDE RANKING: 93

    TWITTER ADDRESS: @Njr92

    FOLLOW AT TWITTER URL: http://twitter.com/Njr92

    SPORT-TEAM-LEAGUE: Soccer-Santos-Campeonato Brasileiro

    FOLLOWERS: 3,779,960

    FOLLOWING: 606

    TWEETS: 8,257

    THE SKINNY: The youngest member of the Top 20 at age 20, Neymar was rumored to be looking to move to Real Madrid last year before deciding to stay in his native Brazil. Now Barcelona wants the phenom to come to Camp Nou and play with Messi and Fabregas next season. 

4 LeBron James

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    NAME: LeBron James

    SPORTS RANKING: 4

    WORLDWIDE RANKING: 77

    TWITTER ADDRESS: @KingJames

    FOLLOW AT TWITTER URLhttp://twitter.com/KingJames

    SPORT-TEAM-LEAGUE: Basketball-Heat-NBA

    FOLLOWERS: 4,085,293

    FOLLOWING: 267

    TWEETS: 2,491

    THE SKINNY: James’ latest notable Tweet came this weekend (pictured above) as he and his Heat teammates donned hoodies to pay homage to Treyvon Martin, the 17-year-old unarmed Florida boy who was killed by a neighborhood watch captain outside his stepmother’s home. He was making his way home from the store after buying a can of iced tea and a bag of Skittles.

    James has always been a big Twitter guy.

3 Shaquille O'Neal

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    NAME: Shaquille O’Neal

    SPORTS RANKING: 3

    WORLDWIDE RANKING: 49

    TWITTER ADDRESS: @SHAQ

    FOLLOW AT TWITTER URL: http://twitter.com/SHAQ

    SPORT-TEAM-LEAGUE: Retired NBA Player

    FOLLOWERS: 5,363,413

    FOLLOWING: 654

    TWEETS: 4,268

    THE SKINNY: Shaq Fu has always had a wonderful sense of humor, and the TNT analyst has parlayed his wit and popularity to become the top American athlete on the social medium with over five million followers. Needless to say, Shaq is also the biggest athlete physically on this list.

2 Cristiano Ronaldo

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    NAME: Cristiano Ronaldo

    SPORTS RANKING: 2

    WORLDWIDE RANKING: 22

    TWITTER ADDRESS: @Cristiano

    FOLLOW AT URL LINK: http://twitter.com/Cristiano

    SPORT-TEAM-LEAGUE: Soccer-Real Madrid-La Liga

    FOLLOWERS: 7,915,204

    FOLLOWING: 45

    TWEETS: 774

    THE SKINNY: The guy who gets to call Sports Illustrated 2011 swimsuit edition cover girl Irina Shayk his girlfriend, Ronaldo has it all: one of the highest contracts in professional sports, model good looks and skills beyond compare (save for Messi) on the soccer pitch. No wonder almost eight million people (including myself) are now following CR7.

1 Kaka

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    NAME: Kaka

    SPORTS RANKING: 1

    WORLDWIDE RANKING: 18

    TWITTER ADDRESS: @KAKA

    FOLLOW AT URL LINK: http://twitter.com/KAKA

    SPORT-TEAM-LEAGUE: Soccer-Real Madrid-La Liga

    FOLLOWERS: 9,282,765

    FOLLOWING: 376

    TWEETS: 2,302

    THE SKINNY: So you probably thought Michael Jordan or Tiger Woods or Lionel Messi would be No. 1 right? Guess again. Ronaldo’s teammate at the Bernabeu, Kaka grabs the honors in great part for his South American roots (Brazil), European team (Real Madrid) and his skill on the field.

    Kaka, who only Tweets about one time a day, is projected to hit the 18 million mark in 460 days (TwitterCounter.com) and gained 25,505 followers yesterday alone. Kind of makes a guy with 25 total followers feel really small.  Really, really small.

Conclusion

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    There’s a lot to be learned from Twitter and all these stats. Musicians dominate the top of the list led by Lady Gaga (21.6 million followers) and Justin Bieber (18.9 million). Athletes do pretty good, especially soccer players who took 10 of the 20 spots on this latest ranking, which is refreshed daily at TwitterCounter.com. Basketball players (5 of Top 20) also do pretty well.

    Noticeable is the lack of a baseball player, hockey player or golfer in the Top 20 and only one tennis player (Williams) and one boxer (Mayweather) cracked the list.

    > Follow me on Twitter @KevinStott11

    Kevin Stott has been a sports writer for the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s View Newspapers and Gaming Today and bleeds Chelsea FC blue. His cat Saki, a rabid Arsenal supporter, has been banned from Twitter for life for using foul language in specific threats to dogs and birds last summer. Bad kitty.

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