Lolo Jones and the 10 Most Followed Team USA Athletes on Twitter
In 2009, Team USA hurdler Lolo Jones posted her most recent blog entry with the command: "Help Lolo increase here [sic] number of followers. Pass it on."
Yes, in this modern age of fiber optics and lightning-quick Internet-based communication, it sure is all about social media and the 140-characters-or-less "real-time information network" known as Twitter.
From sharing new gear and interacting with fans to rudimentary currency conversion, stars of the 2012 Olympic Games are posting it all on Twitter, gaining followers and subscribers who can't wait to see what their idol will be eating for dinner tonight.
So where does Lolo Jones rank in number of Twitter followers amongst all Team USA athletes?
First, one key ground rule: only full-time, bona fide Olympians qualify for this list. Athletes who have prominent non-Game gigs, like LeBron James and his five-million followers, don't qualify.
Now that's squared away, prepare to count down the top 10 Team USA Athletes on Twitter, and in a testament to the prominence of social media in the 21st century's second decade, try comparing the number of followers displayed in this list with those on Twitter.
You guessed it, the difference accounts solely for the time from publication to time of slideshow viewing.
Remarkable, isn't it?
Hon. Mention: Usain Bolt (544,044)
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Olympian and No. of Followers: Usain Bolt (544,044)
Most Recent Tweet: Chris Martin touring the yard lol
The fastest man on earth is also the No. 1 followed Olympic-specific athlete in the world.
Hailing from Kingston, Jamaica, Bolt simply hails himself as, "the most naturally gifted athlete the world has ever seen." The world record holder in the men's 100-meters certainly is impressive as he attempts to repeat his three-gold performance from 2008 Beijing when he takes his blazing speed—and half-million Twitter followers—to London.
No. 10: Alicia Sacramone (26,575)
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Olympian and No. of Followers: Alicia Sacramone (26,575)
Most Recent Tweet: It took strength for me to come out of retirement&get back on the beam.
A member of the 2008 Beijing gymnastics squad, Alicia Sacramone referenced her fight back to the world stage after retiring earlier this season, having torn her right Achilles tendon last October.
Though out of the limelight during her quasi-retirement, Sacramone retrains over 26K followers in pursuit to return to the Olympics.
No. 9: Tyson Gay (30,136)
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Olympian and No. of Followers: Tyson Gay (30,136)
Say what? Twitter sure is a place for a wide range of social interaction, with sprinter Tyson Gay demonstrating that fact in his communication with triathlete and iron-man Mark Russell while retweeting sports lawyer Jay Perry.
Tyson Gay is so fast, even his tweets fly at lightning speed.
Having overcome hip surgery to qualify for the London Games, the current American 100-meter record holder is, in his own words, "trying to be the fastest man in history," recruiting over 30,000 followers to help the cause.
No. 8: Amanda Beard (34,305)
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Olympian and No. of Followers: Amanda Beard (34,305)
Most Recent Tweet: @whitneyh2o good job this morning lady!!!! Youre a rock star!
Whether an Olympic berth is in the cards for this self-described "mom, wife and 7-time Olympic medalist for USA Swimming," the four-time Olympian and seven-time medalist spent Wednesday morning on Twitter chronicling her journey from home to the U.S. Olympic Trials in Omaha.
Beard also runs the "Swim Like a Mom" blog, an accompanying website for her memoir and what she calls, "an athlete's view of parenthood & more."
No. 7: Allyson Felix (40,495)
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Olympian and No. of Followers: Allyson Felix (40,495)
Most Recent Tweet: @Candace_Parker Thanks girl!! Have a good game 2nite!
Candace Parker's message? "Good luck"; and wouldn't you know it, Felix would run into a third place, dead heat later that day. As the so-called tie-gate grows, expect Felix to gain support by way of additional Twitter followers.
No. 6: Natalie Coughlin (45,387)
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Olympian and No. of Followers: Natalie Coughlin (45,387)
As the veteran Coughlin takes rookie Olympic swimmer Caitlin Leverenz under her wing in Coughlin's most recent tweet, we recall that Coughlin is quite the Olympian herself: 11 total medals including three golds and, that's right, a former competitor on Dancing with the Stars.
No. 5: Nastia Liukin (86,790)
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Olympian and No. of Followers: Nastia Liukin (86,790)
Five-time Olympic medalist and 2012 hopeful Nastia Liukin is building off her 2008 Beijing success and has acquired nearly 87,000 Twitter faithful. Who knows? Maybe she'll snag some of @ShawnJohnson's 165,442 followers; after all, now that she's on-again-off-again retired, people will need to find a current Olympian to subscribe to.
As for the leotard, Speedo made the XLR Racer for 2008 swimmers; I suppose there must be a gymnastic performance equivalent.
No. 4: Ryan Lochte (88,666)
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Olympian and No. of Followers: Ryan Locte (88,666)
Most Recent Tweet: @BrendanHansen22 at speedo pace club!
Barely edging out Nastia Liukin is American swimmer Ryan Lochte, who looks to feature prominently this summer in London.
At the time this piece was published, Lochte laid claim to 88,666 followers.
His burgeoning success surrounding his friendly rivalry with teammate Michael Phelps very likely will propel Lochte to over 90,000 subscribers, quite possibly by U.S. Olympic Trials' end.
His recent Men's Health Magazine feature might help a little, too.
No. 3: Lolo Jones (145,098)
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Olympian and No. of Followers: Lolo Jones (145,098)
Most Recent Tweet: Filming a commercial for 6hrs my job was to run & actors job was to drink a McDonald's real fruit smoothie, trade?!?
Lolo Jones still has a gap to breach before capturing the top spot, although 145K is not a bad start. It's one of the fastest growing Twitter accounts for an Olympic athlete, but the only question is, how many more followers she will pick up in London?
No. 2: Michael Phelps (210,018)
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Olympian and No. of Followers: Michael Phelps (210,018)
Most Recent Tweet: Nice race to @arschmitty !!! Way to gooo !!
Ever the supportive teammate, Olympic champion swimmer Michael Phelps' most recent tweet congratulates Allison Schmitt's London-qualifying performance in the women's 400-meter freestyle. Or maybe it was just returning a favor after Schmitt tweeted, "congrats @MichaelPhelps !!!" after Phelps became the first American male swimmer to qualify for his fourth Olympics.
No wonder Phelps is so widely followed; you can't unseat an Olympic champion.
No. 1: Dara Torres (263,076)
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Olympian and No. of Followers: Dara Torres (263,076)
Competing for a shot at her sixth—count 'em, six—Olympics, 12-time medalist (four gold) Dara Torres has had time to accumulate followers over the years (wait, wasn't Twitter founded in 2006?) to the tune of over 263,000 subscribers.
These days, Torres is a Twitter cheerleader just like many other athletes, supporting each other throughout the program, both during and after the Games and seasons.