A top 50 was put together in a collaboration that judged each professional on his or her "marketing potential over a three-year period from this summer." Age, value for money, charisma and crossover appeal were judged, while each athlete's popularity in his or her home nation and willingness to be marketed also came under scrutiny.
The summer's football World Cup hasn't been taken into account "on the basis that any brand signing an athlete to an endorsement deal now would have no time to plan activity around it," per Eurosport. Here's the top 20:
|Position||Name, (2013 Rank)||Nationality||Age||Sport|
|20.||Alan Oliveira, (17)||Brazilian||22||Para-athletics|
|19.||Jordan Spieth, (New)||American||20||Golf|
|18.||Ronda Rousey, (New)||American||27||MMA|
|17.||Mike Trout, (28)||American||22||Baseball|
|16.||Marc Marquez, (New)||Spanish||21||Motorcycling|
|15.||Novak Djokovic, (6)||Serbian||26||Tennis|
|14.||Alex Morgan, (27)||American||27||Football|
|13.||Eugenie Bouchard, (New)||Canadian||20||Tennis|
|12.||Adam Scott, (New)||Australian||33||Golf|
|11||Lionel Messi, (2)||Argentinian||26||Football|
|10.||Sloane Stephens, (9)||American||21||Tennis|
|9.||Blake Griffin, (10)||American||25||Basketball|
|8.||Missy Franklin, (20)||American||18||Swimming|
|6.||Usain Bolt, (5)||Jamaican||27||Athletics|
|5.||Grigor Dimitrov, (New)||Bulgarian||23||Tennis|
|4.||Cristiano Ronaldo, (8)||Portuguese||29||Football|
|3.||Robert Griffin III, (4)||American||24||American Football|
|2.||Virat Kohli, (13)||Indian||25||Cricket|
|1.||Lewis Hamilton, (7)||British||29||Motorsport|
SportsPro via EuroSport
Hamilton's place atop a list that appears strange on first inspection underlines the Englishman's sudden surge toward the summit of this year's F1 Drivers' Championship. The 29-year-old has a long career ahead of him, but he is only just returning to the kind of results many would have expected after his title win in 2008.
Rivals such as Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso are yet to rack up race wins in the the current season, which has seen Hamilton triumph in four of five races. Nico Rosberg, his Mercedes teammate, won the other contest, but doesn't make it into the top 50.
SportsPro editor-in-chief David Cushnan explained Hamilton's place at the top, per Daniel Johnson of the Telegraph:
He is already a well-established global sports star, of course, but the next three years will be pivotal in determining whether he can make good on his obvious talent and add to his 2008 world title.
A dominant car and his brilliant run of form so far this year only underlined our view that he is a man that brands should continue paying attention to: he will deliver the goods for them.
Hamilton was ranked 26th on Forbes' list of highest-paid athletes, but he can be expected to rocket up the table across the coming years, especially if his success continues.
Sporting success has certainly had a major impact on the marketability of each star. Cristiano Ronaldo leapfrogs both Neymar and Lionel Messi, who finished first and second, respectively, last year.
The 2013 Ballon d'Or winner—who recently broke the Champions League goalscoring record for one season and won the Golden Shoe alongside Luis Suarez—only appears to be getting more marketable as he ages.
His recent Vogue photoshoot alongside girlfriend Irina Shayk perhaps sums up Ronaldo's mass appeal:
American interests are well represented, with eight athletes in the top 20. Ronda Rousey's dominance in the UFC's recently installed women's division makes her an extremely marketable asset to a corporation that continues to grow rapidly.
Similarly, Blake Griffin's tremendous turn of form for the Los Angeles Clippers ensures he will remain an in-demand star over the next few years. The 25-year-old has been a shining light for the Clippers and only looks to get better at a franchise that is rapidly improving.
Among the more surprising names to make the top 20 are young tennis stars Eugenie Bouchard and Grigor Dimitrov. Both represent the emerging wave of talent in the sport, and both highlight a changing of the guard, considering Novak Djokovic falls below them to 15th.
It will be extremely interesting to see if Hamilton can hold on to the top spot next year, especially if his results begin to stutter. Neymar's drop from the top coincides with Barcelona's trophyless season and a transfer scandal surrounding his transfer, giving Hamilton the edge.
While the Englishman's form will go a long way to determining whether he is crowned two years in a row, Neymar's performances at the World Cup may see him usurp the current No. 1.