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The Faults In Our Stars

Photo Illustration for .com page

The least shocking thing about our fourth annual World Fame 100 issue is the athlete who ranks No. 1.

Cristiano Ronaldo, who's topped our list every year, has more followers on Twitter than the NBA, NFL, MLB and NHL combined. He currently has 156.3 million Instagram followers, which is 9.6 million more than Ariana Grande and 100 times more than Tiger Woods. Ronaldo is so famous that Madrid's Museum of Wax displays a life-size figure of him, and he's so aware of his own fame that he sends a stylist there monthly to keep the statue's haircut up-to-date.

Over the past year, Ronaldo's celebrity has proved impervious even to serious criminal allegation. Last September Las Vegas police reopened an investigation into an accusation by former model and teacher Kathryn Mayorga, who says Ronaldo sexually assaulted her in a hotel room in 2009. (For more on the case, see page 70.)

The emerging details of the case haven't slowed Ronaldo's transition to playing for Juventus, or his plans to expand his Pestana CR7 hotel chain into New York this summer.

Ronaldo's fame, then, appears to be secure, despite anyone's moral objections. So how did we arrive at his ranking, and those of the other athletes on our list? We started by looking at 794 of the biggest names in sports. For each of them, we examined three factors: social media following, measured on the platform where he or she is most popular; online searches, according to peak and average Google Trend scores in 2018; and endorsement income. Working with ESPN's Stats & Information Group, we then improved the analytical model we have developed to blend all of this data into one score that measures overall fame.

You will find some surprises: UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov ranks No. 15, the highest of anyone who didn't crack the Fame 100 at all in 2018. Phil Mickelson is at No. 26 despite a meager social media presence, thanks to $37 million in endorsements last year, fifth most among all athletes. There are 37 soccer players, 16 basketball players and 11 cricketers on our global list, yet just one apiece from baseball (Bryce Harper), Formula One (Lewis Hamilton) and swimming (Olympic gold medalist Sun Yang).

You'll also find that our index teaches some basic lessons about the nature of fame. For instance, fame isn't virtue. It's hard to say who the first self-created superstar was -- Babe Ruth? Machiavelli? The serpent in the Garden of Eden? -- but would-be celebrities have been figuring out for a long time that notoriety can be its own reward. Athletes become famous for their excellence, sure, but also for their arrests and charitable causes and contract disputes and love lives. A list like the World Fame 100 isn't about the athletes who are best at their jobs; it's about who draws the most eyeballs.

Maybe that should be obvious, but modern media machines create sports celebrities so instantly and saturate our attention with them so thoroughly that we often assign outsized value to their every act -- and to their rankings on lists -- as though their notoriety is our reward. "We risk being the first people in history to have been able to make their illusions so vivid, so persuasive, so realistic that we can live in them," historian Daniel Boorstin wrote in his landmark book The Image in 1962. "The celebrity is a person who is known for his well-knownness." And he never even met LaVar Ball!

The list also teaches us that fame endures. Athletes bond with fans early and intensely. And though it's easier than ever for anyone to grab their 15 minutes, sports stars build global fame by stirring our admiration (or hatred), curiosity and envy over years of engagement, to the point where companies want to pay them for promoting sneakers or cars. Those are long-term ventures that don't fade quickly. The top 20 athletes in the Fame 100 are an average age of 31.6 and have been pros for 14.4 years. A dozen of them were in the top 20 of the first Fame 100. It's a pretty stable group.

But you know what you won't find on our list? More women. Despite measuring an expanded universe more accurately, this edition of the list contains just three women: Serena Williams (No. 17), Maria Sharapova (No. 37) and Sania Mirza (No. 93). How is that possible? Partly because of the consequences of the first two lessons: It's hard to crack the boys club of supercelebrity. But also because of a third point: Fame is a reflection of the male gaze.

A long line of research has found that women face particular barriers when trying to build identities as athletes, including how persistently fans and sponsors care about traditional femininity and physical attractiveness. As a result, "women have to do more than perform well in their sport to build a brand," in the words of a study led by Jami Lobpries, VP of the United States Specialty Sports Association, published in Sport Marketing Quarterly in 2018.

Case in point from our data: The correlation between how male golfers rank in our spreadsheets and how well they performed on the PGA Tour last year is 0.38 -- a moderate connection and about what you'd expect, given that recent excellence on the course is an important driver of fame. For women, however, the correlation between performance and fame is actually negative (minus-0.26). That doesn't necessarily mean playing better golf makes a woman less famous; it's that other variables mean more to the fans and sponsors who make women in golf famous. Sharmila Nicollet is 861st in the latest Rolex world rankings, but she has 446,000 followers on Twitter, among the highest of the 13 LPGA players we sampled, and 206,000 on Instagram, where posts of her elite swing sit alongside shots of her modeling fitness gear. She played her first pro tournament in the U.S. (the 2017 ShopRite Classic) by winning a sponsor's exemption that was based on an online poll.

In 2007, photos of record-breaking high school athlete Allison Stokke went viral -- one blog posted them with the headline "Pole Vaulting is Sexy, Barely Legal" -- and without her consent or intention, Stokke became an internet sex symbol. More than a decade later, Stokke, still in the public eye after a career as a pro athlete and fitness model and an engagement to golfer Rickie Fowler, has more than half a million Instagram followers, three times as many as Breanna Stewart, reigning WNBA MVP, WNBA champion and three-time college basketball national player of the year.

"Women often have to deal with what we call the 'female/athlete paradox,'" says Ted Peetz, professor of sports administration at Belmont. "Promotional campaigns sell their sexuality and end up undermining their athletic accomplishments. The fact that Nike's 'Dream Crazier' campaign has gone viral just shows how much it's different."

Now consider the athlete who narrates that campaign and who has managed to forge exceptions to each of the rules of fame: Serena Williams. In 2013, when The Mag studied the factors that determine off-field income ("Now a Word From Our Sponsors," June 24, 2013), Williams was a glaring outlier. She was making about $9 million a year from endorsements, less than half of what the data suggested. Our analysis showed that after adjusting for factors such as the sport played, performance and social media presence, an athlete's earning potential wasn't hurt by being black or by being a woman -- but apparently it hurt to be both.

Fast-forward six years and Williams has become the most famous woman athlete on the planet and has doubled her annual take from endorsements. In that span, she has performed at an even higher level on the court, vaulting into GOAT-among-GOATs discussions. She was dogged by injuries and controversies that made her critics look like bullies (like when the French Open banned her catsuit). She also got married and gave birth to a girl. Williams, in other words, has managed to embody dominance, vulnerability and motherhood all at once. And when you can be everything to everyone, you can transcend fame's usual limits. "There is always one woman who becomes the prism through which all concerns about modern women are refracted, whether it's about sexuality, motherhood, social media or eating," Hadley Freeman, a columnist for The Guardian, wrote last autumn. "Now it is the turn of Serena Williams."

Even so, Williams has never placed above No. 12 on this list. Which means that for her or any woman athlete to rank significantly higher, the world itself will have to change.

Ultimately, fame is backward-looking, a quality gauged by games already won, thrills already provided and gossip already generated. Like MVP votes or award shows or stock prices, fame sums up opinions of the public and influentials without providing many hints about future surprises. Its distribution evolves only when a singular figure such as Williams compels the public to view an athlete in a different way, or when new generations of fans and executives gain sway.

Look at Naomi Osaka. She beat Williams in a dramatic U.S. Open final and became 2018's breakout star. But tennis doesn't have fans in the billions-with-a-b (like soccer or cricket) or huge spikes in online traffic from one-time events (like boxing or MMA). Osaka is adding 80,000 social media followers a month, which is impressive but not yet enough to get close to the constellation of the world's most famous stars.

She could easily make a future Fame 100, as could Simone Biles or Chloe Kim. Their rise foreshadows a younger, more female, more globalized sports world, with opportunities less tied to old conventions and fame aligned more closely with excellence. But it's going to take a while.

1. Cristiano Ronaldo

Portuguese soccer player

Search Score: 100
Endorsements: $37 million
Social following: 148 million
Last year's rank: 1

The World Fame #1 is never far from the news. In July, he broke the Serie A transfer record when he swapped Real Madrid, his club of nine years, for Italian champions Juventus in a 100 million euro deal. Two months later, Las Vegas police reopened an investigation into accusations that he'd raped a woman in 2009. Ronaldo has denied any wrongdoing. The case has thus far had little impact on his popularity: Juventus' shares have doubled since his arrival. -- Elaine Teng


2. LeBron James

American basketball player

Search Score: 47
Endorsements: $52 million
Social following: 45.3 million
Last year's rank: 2

Since 2010's "The Decision," LeBron James' free-agency announcements have had less pomp and circumstance. All eyes are on The King anyway, peaking last July 1 when Klutch Sports sent out an understated news release: LeBron to the Lakers. No TV special or magazine essay; just as much interest. -- Anthony Olivieri


3. Lionel Messi

Argentinian soccer player

Search Score: 54
Endorsements: $28 million
Social following: 103.1 million
Last year's rank: 3

The disappointment doesn't stop for Lionel Messi when it comes to Argentina. He suffered his latest failure on the international stage in June when France knocked Argentina out in what could be Messi's final World Cup. The one positive? Messi's eternal rival Cristiano Ronaldo was eliminated on the same day.-- Gus Elvin


4. Neymar

Brazilian soccer player

Search Score: 55
Endorsements: $19 million
Social following: 107.2 million
Last year's rank: 4

World football's ultimate Rorschach test at it again: Was Neymar a meme-generating diver or simply the most fouled player in the tournament? An underachiever or a star who fought his way back from a serious injury and never made excuses for his lack of fitness? A crybaby or the dynamo who sent Mexico home with two moments of brilliance? His haircuts were regrettable, his form uneven, but there's no one we love (to hate) more. -- Dotun Akintoye


5. Conor McGregor

Irish MMA fighter

Search Score: 100
Endorsements: $15 million
Social following: 29.7 million
Last year's rank: 18

No amount of strutting or Irish whiskey could deliver a win for Conor McGregor over Khabib Nurmagomedov in his much-anticipated return to the Octagon at UFC 229 in October. He'd been absent for 23 months pursuing other ventures, such as getting knocked out by Floyd Mayweather and throwing chairs at a bus. Nurmagomedov might have submitted McGregor in the fourth round, but the Irishman is still the sport's biggest star. -- Katie Barnes


6. Roger Federer

Swiss tennis player

Search Score: 23
Endorsements: $41.5 million
Social following: 14.5 million
Last year's rank: 5

The GOAT added another title to his already full trophy cabinet in January 2018 when he stormed to a five-set victory over Marin Cilic at the Australian Open. You'd have thought Roger Federer would be used to winning by now, but the tears flowed once again as he clasped his 20th Grand Slam. Old Father Time has yet to catch up with him. -- Tom Hamilton


7. Virat Kohli

Indian cricket player

Search Score: 25
Endorsements: $20 million
Social following: 37.1 million
Last year's rank: 11

Five years ago, even Sachin Tendulkar haters wouldn't have bet that someone would break his record as the fastest batsman to score 10,000 one-day international runs, a feat the legendary cricketer achieved in just 259 innings. Then came Virat Kohli, who on Oct. 24, 2018, crushed his childhood hero's record of 10,000 runs by 54 fewer innings. The solace for Tendulkar fans? The record stays within the Indian team, just as the Little Master hoped. -- Aishwarya Kumar


8. Rafael Nadal

Spanish tennis player

Search Score: 40
Endorsements: $29.3 million
Social following: 15.6 million
Last year's rank: 8

Imagine being so famous that when you lose, you actually gain more fame. Granted, when you're in pursuit of your third Wimbledon title -- not to mention 18th Grand Slam singles title -- squaring up against Serbian rival Novak Djokovic in the semifinals, all eyes are going to be on you. So, congrats, Rafael Nadal, for proving that losing can still count as a win in terms of viral fame. -- Charlotte Gibson


9. Stephen Curry

American basketball player

Search Score: 12
Endorsements: $42 million
Social following: 23 million
Last year's rank: 9

Stephen Curry draining shots from behind the arc is commonplace, but a record nine 3-pointers in an NBA Finals game was not just historic but magnetic. Curry's miraculous performance contributed to the Warriors capturing their third championship in four seasons. Curry celebrated by snapping a mirror selfie. The Larry O'Brien Trophy was the mirror. -- Katie Barnes


10. Tiger Woods

American golfer

Search Score: 20
Endorsements: $42 million
Social following: 6.4 million
Last year's rank: 6

This is not a drill. We repeat, this is not a drill. Tiger Woods actually won a tournament in 2018. At the Tour Championship in September, he claimed his 80th PGA Tour career victory and his first since August 2013. The comeback is real, and we refuse to stop talking about Tiger. Who cares if it took him 1,876 days to do it! -- Charlotte Gibson


11. Kevin Durant

American basketball player

Search Score: 9
Endorsements: $32 million
Social following: 17.4 million
Last year's rank: 7

Kevin Durant drilled a majestic 33-foot 3 in Game 3 of the 2018 Finals to effectively ice another Warriors title. It'd be literally over after his triple-double two nights later. What's more, Golden State had dispatched LeBron James' Cavaliers two years in a row thanks to Durant, who became the 11th player to win multiple Finals MVPs. Google searches one day later: Who's this KD guy? -- Anthony Olivieri


12. Paul Pogba

French soccer player

Search Score: 15
Endorsements: $32 million
Social following: 30.7 million
Last year's rank: 33

Maligned and stultified by Jose Mourinho at Manchester United, the France midfielder reminded the world why he was once the most expensive player in history when he led his nation to a World Cup with a string of commanding performances. And the 25-year-old's signature ebullience was on show during the celebrations: the dabbing, the singing, the champagne showers, and best of all, his exquisite trolling of England. -- Dotun Akintoye


13. MS Dhoni

Indian cricket player

Search Score: 5
Endorsements: $28 million
Social following: 20.5 million
Last year's rank: 20

The sweetest sports videos of 2018 include MS Dhoni and his adorable 4-year-old daughter, Ziva, giving us all the feels. She didn't disappoint on Captain Cool's 37th birthday. Among the images released from his intimate birthday celebration with teammates and family include a video of Ziva singing, "Happy birthday, daddy, you're getting older," which promptly became the most-searched Dhoni video of the year. -- Aishwarya Kumar


14. Kylian Mbappe

French soccer player

Search Score: 32
Endorsements: $18.87 million
Social following: 23.5 million
Last year's rank: 79

The trophies, goals and heady comparisons (Ronaldo Fenomeno one day, Thierry Henry the next; better than Messi and Ronaldo at the same age; more mature than Neymar already; etc.) keep accumulating for French boy wonder Kylian Mbappe, who somehow lived up to the hype when he became the first teenager to score in a World Cup final since Pele. -- Dotun Akintoye


15. Khabib Nurmagomedov

Russian MMA fighter

Search Score: 100
Endorsements: $3.9 million
Social following: 13.4 million
Last year's rank: Newcomer

No nine-month suspension can take the shine off making trash-talking Conor McGregor tap out, then jumping out of the Octagon to take some swings at McGregor's equally loudmouthed crew, only to have Vladimir Putin congratulate you for the whole fracas as you sit side by side on TV. -- Dotun Akintoye


16. Antoine Griezmann

French soccer player

Search Score: 20
Endorsements: $23 million
Social following: 22.6 million
Last year's rank: 49

What would you do if you scored in the World Cup final? Do a dance from your favorite video game, of course! At least that's what France's Antoine Griezmann did after scoring a penalty against Croatia. Having done Fortnite's "Take the L" throughout the league season, the striker brought the dance to football's biggest stage. -- Sachin Dave Chandan


17. Serena Williams

American tennis player

Search Score: 37
Endorsements: $18.11 million
Social following: 10.8 million
Last year's rank: 12

Who can forget the 2018 US Open? Naomi Osaka vs. Serena Williams vs. the chair umpire. Williams' dispute with Carlos Ramos spawned think pieces, hot takes and offensive cartoons. The crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium booed during the trophy ceremony until Williams urged them to celebrate Osaka's victory instead -- a classy move after a particularly frustrating match. -- Katie Barnes


18. Yuvraj Singh

Indian cricket player

Search Score: 1
Endorsements: $31 million
Social following: 14.5 million
Last year's rank: 57

At 37, Yuvraj Singh's best years are behind him, but he still caused a stir at last year's Indian Premier League auctions, the annual event where teams bid for unsigned players. When no team bought him on the first day, Mumbai Indians saw the opportunity for a bargain, snapping up the sixer king for 1 crore rupees (about $140,000) in what the team owner called "the biggest steal in IPL history." -- Aishwarya Kumar


19. Mesut Özil

German soccer player

Search Score: 15
Endorsements: $6.5 million
Social following: 30.9 million
Last year's rank: 22

Turkish-German midfielder Mesut Özil sparked a national controversy when he resigned from the German national team in July, citing "racism and disrespect" after an ignominious World Cup exit. Widely criticized for a photo he took with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the former poster boy for integration wrote in his statement: "I am German when we win, an immigrant when we lose." -- Elaine Teng


20. Novak Djokovic

Serbian tennis player

Search Score: 21
Endorsements: $22 million
Social following: 8.5 million
Last year's rank: 13

America prepared for an all-nighter. After all, the previous time Novak Djokovic faced Rafael Nadal, the match went on for over five hours. But it took the Serb just two hours at the Australian Open final to rout Nadal and capture his 15th Grand Slam -- two behind the Spaniard and five behind Roger Federer. Given that this is Djokovic's third consecutive major win since May, is it time to reopen the GOAT discussion? -- Aishwarya Kumar


21. Lewis Hamilton

British racing driver

Search Score: 3
Endorsements: $33 million
Social following: 8.7 million
Last year's rank: 68

Formula One star Lewis Hamilton celebrated storming to a fifth world championship in October by vowing to improve even more in 2019. He was never far from the spotlight off the track: He sparked controversy when he called his U.K. hometown of Stevenage "the slums," and rumors swirled of a relationship with Nicki Minaj. -- Tom Hamilton


22. Suresh Raina

Indian cricket player

Search Score: 1
Endorsements: $20 million
Social following: 15.3 million
Last year's rank: 41

For as long as the Indian Premier League has existed, Suresh Raina has been called Mr. IPL. That's because even when he's in bad form the rest of the year, it's almost a guarantee he will score big runs for the Chennai Super Kings when the IPL season comes around. That's exactly what he did April 28 against archrivals Mumbai Indians, smashing his 33rd IPL 50, scoring seven boundaries and four sixes in the process. Boom. -- Aishwarya Kumar


23. Thomas Miller

German soccer player

Search Score: 3
Endorsements: $30 million
Social following: 9.2 million
Last year's rank: 75

Thomas Müller was anonymous in Germany's shock 1-0 defeat to Mexico, the defending champions' first match at the 2018 World Cup. It was a sign of things to come. After winning the Golden Boot in 2010 and the Silver Boot in 2014, the 29-year-old went scoreless in Russia -- and his team was eliminated in the group stage for the first time in 80 years. -- Elaine Teng


24. Shaun White

American snowboarder

Search Score: 32
Endorsements: $27 million
Social following: 2.3 million
Last year's rank: 32

Shaun White captured his third gold medal -- and Team USA's 100th in Winter Olympics history -- in Pyeongchang with one of the best runs of his long career. At the press conference afterwards, he sparked controversy by referring to a sexual harassment lawsuit he settled in May 2017 with the former drummer in his band as "gossip." He later apologized.-- Sachin Dave Chandan


25. Rory McIlroy

Irish golfer

Search Score: 3
Endorsements: $34 million
Social following: 3.2 million
Last year's rank: 15

Blame it on the putter. Blame it on the smack talk. Blame it on the fame? Rory McIlroy's collapse at the 2018 Masters proved that no level of confidence or popularity can win majors. Headed into Sunday, McIlroy let his mouth run amok. He might've been ready to "spoil the party" for Patrick Reed, but Reed got the last laugh when he walked away with the green jacket. -- Charlotte Gibson


26. Phil Mickelson

American golfer

Search Score: 4
Endorsements: $37 million
Social following: 257,000
Last year's rank: 10

Talk about a match made in golf heaven. Let's set the scene: Tiger vs. Phil. Two stars, 22 holes of back-and-forth golf, $9 million on the line and a $19.99 pay-per-view price tag. With months of lead-up, including Mickelson finally getting on Twitter to promote the match and show off his dad-like dance moves, Lefty took home the ultimate prize: beating the GOAT. -- Charlotte Gibson


27. Andres Iniesta

Spanish soccer player

Search Score: 8
Endorsements: $2.2 million
Social following: 26.7 million
Last year's rank: 28

Andres Iniesta, emblematic of Barcelona's immortal tiki-taka generation, announced in April that he would leave the club at the end of the season. In Iniesta's 22 years in Catalonia, he won nine league titles, four Champions Leagues and six Copas del Rey. The final sight of Iniesta in a Barca jersey was unforgettable: barefoot and alone on the Camp Nou turf, draped in shadow, hours after his final game. -- Dan Hajducky


28. Kei Nishikori

Japanese tennis player

Search Score: 9
Endorsements: $33 million
Social following: 927,000
Last year's rank: Newcomer

Japan has long hungered for tennis success, and in 2018 the nation finally got it. At the US Open, Kei Nishikori and Naomi Osaka became the first Japanese duo to reach the semifinals of the same Grand Slam tournament. Osaka went on to win, of course, in that epic final against Serena Williams -- making a huge splash for their country and their sport. -- Charlotte Gibson


29. James Rodriguez

Colombian soccer player

Search Score: 11
Endorsements: $4.8 million
Social following: 40.5 million
Last year's rank: 23

James' most-Googled day of 2018 was one he and his country would like to forget. After limping off Colombia's group-stage game against Senegal, James was ruled out of the round-of-16 showdown with England because of a calf injury. He could only watch from the sideline as Colombia fell to England on penalty kicks. -- Sachin Dave Chandan


30. Mohamed Salah

Egyptian soccer player

Search Score: 24
Endorsements: $11 million
Social following: 21.3 million
Last year's rank: Newcomer

The Egypt striker has scored many memorable goals for Liverpool, but the moment fans won't forget is when Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos brought Mohamed Salah down in the Champions League final last May. He left the field in tears with a shoulder injury, his team's chance of a trophy shattered and his nation's World Cup hopes hanging by a thread. -- Elaine Teng


31. Tom Brady

American football player

Search Score: 35
Endorsements: $20 million
Social following: 4.7 million
Last year's rank: 38

Tom Terrific is so famous (and so derided) that -- despite winning his sixth(!) Super Bowl in February -- fans are far more eager to bask in Brady schadenfreude than praise. Look no further than a year ago, when the search term "sad brady gifs" skyrocketed (especially in Pennsylvania) after he fumbled away the Patriots' comeback chances against Philadelphia in Super Bowl LII. The quarterback was also more widely Googled after that 2018 heartbreak than his 2019 triumph. (And, yes, sad GIFs abounded.) -- Dan Appenfeller


32. Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Swedish soccer player

Search Score: 10
Endorsements: $5.5 million
Social following: 35.8 million
Last year's rank: 25

When you've won league titles in four countries, you get to brag -- and the Lion is not one to hold back. Last spring, the LA Galaxy's Zlatan Ibrahimovic announced his arrival stateside in quintessential Zlatan fashion: an audacious 40-yard, game-tying volley followed by a winning header in extra time, against crosstown rivals LAFC no less. Oh, and he came on as a 71st-minute substitute. -- Dan Hajducky


33. Gareth Bale

Welsh soccer player

Search Score: 9
Endorsements: $5.5 million
Social following: 37.7 million
Last year's rank: 19

Real Madrid was tied 1-1 with Liverpool in the Champions League final when Marcelo floated a cross into the box. Gareth Bale, trapped in Cristiano Ronaldo's shadow, leapt in the air with his back to goal, 15 yards out. With a pristine overhead kick, he handed Real the lead and, ultimately, its third Champions League title on the bounce. While this strike was overlooked for goal of the season, it will be remembered as his Real Madrid legacy. -- Tom Hamilton


34. Deontay Wilder

American boxer

Search Score: 100
Endorsements: $1.6 million
Social following: 2.5 million
Last year's rank: Newcomer

On the night he went toe-to-toe with Tyson Fury, undefeated American heavyweight Deontay Wilder was favored to add another name to the list of those who've tried and failed to dethrone him. Though Wilder knocked Fury down twice, the megafight ended with a draw. Wilder will continue challenging anyone and everyone in 2019, but we're still waiting for his much-anticipated bout with Anthony Joshua. -- Tom Hamilton


35. Jordan Spieth

American golfer

Search Score: 3
Endorsements: $30 million
Social following: 2 million
Last year's rank: 16

Headed into Sunday at the 2018 Masters, Jordan Spieth was 9 strokes behind the leader, which basically meant he should have stayed in the clubhouse at Augusta. But then he made one birdie, then another, then another. Spieth walked off 18 after shooting a 64 without a second green jacket, but that comeback earned him a standing ovation. -- Charlotte Gibson


36. Luis Suarez

Uruguayan soccer player

Search Score: 6
Endorsements: $7.4 million
Social following: 31.2 million
Last year's rank: 35

It seems like yesterday Luis Suarez dominated the 2014 World Cup headlines with his infamous bite of Italy's Giorgio Chiellini. Four years later, the 31-year-old had a much quieter tournament, scoring two goals during Uruguay's journey to the quarterfinals, where it lost to eventual champion France. -- Sachin Dave Chandan


37. Maria Sharapova

Russian tennis player

Search Score: 5
Endorsements: $17 million
Social following: 14.6 million
Last year's rank: 21

The Russian has struggled since returning from a 15-month doping ban in April 2017. But as the 2018 French Open began, Maria Sharapova looked to be turning things around. She was serving better, her forehand looked more in control and she'd cut down on unforced errors. Through to the quarters, it looked like her comeback tournament. And then Garbine Muguruza walked onto the court and demolished Sharapova 6-2, 6-1 in one of the biggest upsets of the tournament. -- Aishwarya Kumar


38. Sergio Ramos

Spanish soccer player

Search Score: 13
Endorsements: $4 million
Social following: 28.7 million
Last year's rank: Newcomer

In the UEFA Champions League final, Sergio Ramos had a moment. It wasn't a brilliant goal or a defensive play that saved the game, but rather a swift tackle on Liverpool star Mohamed Salah that knocked Salah out of the match early. Ramos received death threats and was accused of purposefully taking out the Egypt striker, a charge he denies. But it worked: Real Madrid went on to win 3-1. -- Katie Barnes


39. Tyson Fury

English boxer

Search Score: 79
Endorsements: $2.65 million
Social following: 21.5 million
Last year's rank: Newcomer

Ten seconds is a long time in boxing, especially during the 12th round when you're splayed out like a starfish on the canvas. But remarkably, after being knocked down a second time, Tyson Fury managed to haul his sizeable frame off the deck after a monster punch from Deontay Wilder. He went on to claim a controversial draw in the epic heavyweight world title fight. Give us that rematch already! -- Tom Hamilton


40. Wayne Rooney

English soccer player

Search Score: 2
Endorsements: $5.1 million
Social following: 24.5 million
Last year's rank: 26

In his final years in the Premier League, Wayne Rooney was not known for his pace. So imagine our surprise when, at 32, the Manchester United legend chased down an opponent in a dead sprint, made a heroic last-ditch tackle and sprayed a pinpoint 50-yard pass to set up a dramatic 96th-minute winner for DC United in August. Guess he didn't come to MLS "to be on holiday" after all. -- Gus Elvin


41. Ninja

American gamer

Search Score: 1
Endorsements: $2.46 million
Social following: 12.5 million
Last year's rank: Newcomer

2018 belonged to Tyler "Ninja" Blevins, the Twitch streamer who shot to fame after playing Fortnite with Drake, Travis Scott and JuJu Smith-Schuster last March. But his biggest moment was actually in April, when he broke his own streaming record at an exhibition event in Las Vegas that drew 680,000 concurrent viewers, the highest number in Twitch history. -- Elaine Teng


42. Ravichandran Ashwin

Indian cricket player

Search Score: 1
Endorsements: $17 million
Social following: 9.2 million
Last year's rank: 71

If there's one good thing that came out of India's poor showing in the test series against England, it was the spellbinding bowling performance by Tamil Nadu super spinner Ravichandran Ashwin. During the first test in Birmingham, Ashwin picked up a memorable seven wickets over the course of the two innings, and although he didn't win the man of the match, the stat quickly became his most discussed moment of 2018. -- Aishwarya Kumar


43. Sun Yang

Chinese swimmer

Search Score: 1
Endorsements: $2.46 million
Social following: 32.6 million
Last year's rank: 17

Having finally secured the elusive 200-meter gold at the Asian Games, Sun Yang's time in Jakarta, Indonesia, ended with the Chinese swimmer exhausted and weeping on a journalist's shoulder. The tears came after his fourth individual gold of the competition during a week when he coped with a bad back and a dispute between the Chinese team's sponsor and his own clothing brand. -- Tom Hamilton


44. Marcelo Vieira

Brazilian soccer player

Search Score: 4
Endorsements: $3.2 million
Social following: 33.8 million
Last year's rank: 42

When he wasn't being decisive in Real Madrid's historic Champions League trifecta, Marcelo Vieira spent the year moonlighting on social media as the Banksy of ball control, leaving a little trail of video clips that should be hanging in a museum. Who, having seen it, can forget the way he nonchalantly trapped a cross-field aerial pass under his left boot against Bayern Munich? -- Dotun Akintoye


45. Russell Westbrook

American basketball player

Search Score: 3
Endorsements: $19 million
Social following: 11.6 million
Last year's rank: 34

Westbrook's most Googled moment of the year was one of controversy, none of which he created. During Oklahoma City's April 11 game against the Memphis Grizzlies, Westbrook had nine assists by the second quarter. That impressive start led Thunder play-by-play announcer Brian Davis to exclaim that Westbrook was playing "out of his cotton-picking mind." Davis was suspended by the team for one game. Westbrook finished the game with 6 points, 20 rebounds and 19 assists. -- Katie Barnes


46. Rohit Sharma

Indian cricket player

Search Score: 6
Endorsements: $8.6 million
Social following: 12.8 million
Last year's rank: 30

It's not surprising that Rohit Sharma smashed his 21st one-day international century on Oct. 29. What is surprising is that the day before the match against the West Indies, he was seen playing gully cricket -- a makeshift version of the game using traffic cones and a wooden board -- with a group of boys on the streets of Mumbai. But then again, maybe it was a good warm-up! -- Aishwarya Kumar


47. Kyrie Irving

American basketball player

Search Score: 3
Endorsements: $17 million
Social following: 12.3 million
Last year's rank: 27

Kyrie Irving can't catch a break when it comes to peaking on the internet. First, he shocked the world with his "The Earth is flat" comment in 2017; then he hit peak Google fame in 2018 because of a season-ending knee injury caused by an infection from a previous knee surgery. Maybe the science teachers of the world were punishing him for not paying attention in class? -- Charlotte Gibson


48. Radamel Falcao

Colombian soccer player

Search Score: 4
Endorsements: $4 million
Social following: 16.9 million
Last year's rank: 39

Radamel Falcao's high-profile struggles in the Premier League are a distant memory. In the 2017-18 season, El Tigre netted a whopping 24 goals in 34 games in all competitions with Monaco. But his biggest moment came in Russia: After missing 2014 with a torn ACL, Colombia's all-time leading scorer played in his first World Cup and scored in a 3-0 shellacking of Poland, eliminating it in the group stage. -- Dan Hajducky


49. James Harden

American basketball player

Search Score: 4
Endorsements: $18 million
Social following: 8.3 million
Last year's rank: 24

The numbers are dizzying: Through Jan. 30, James Harden had scored at least 30 points in 24 consecutive games -- a streak only Wilt Chamberlain bettered, back in the 1960s. That includes a career-high 61-point show against the Knicks on Jan. 23, which the Beard sealed with a dunk. Averaging over 36 points per game, Harden is on track for one of the greatest offensive seasons in NBA history. -- Anthony Olivieri


50. Dwayne Wade

American basketball player

Search Score: 6
Endorsements: $14 million
Social following: 11.9 million
Last year's rank: 31

Trade-deadline moves are always exciting, and Dwyane Wade's trade from Cleveland to Miami was no exception. He was traded back to the Heat for a protected second-round pick in February as part of a series of moves by the Cavs that completely remade the post-LeBron James roster. -- Katie Barnes


51. Odell Beckham Jr.

American football player

Search Score: 4
Endorsements: $18.8 million
Social following: 3.8 million
Last year's rank: 53

Months after becoming the NFL's highest-paid receiver, Odell Beckham Jr. got into his feelings about the Giants' 1-3 start in an interview with ESPN's Josina Anderson. Lil Wayne was there, too, because -- sure? Chief among OBJ's concerns: "How come we don't attempt to throw the ball for more than 20 yards?" Quarterback Eli Manning responded with an off-target screen pass, probably.-- Dan Appenfeller


52. Sergio Aguero

Argentinian soccer player

Search Score: 1
Endorsements: $6 million
Social following: 28.7 million
Last year's rank: 37

Sergio Agüero's most viral moment was from the bench? After rumors of a disagreement with his coach, the striker was left out of the starting lineup for Argentina's round-of-16 clash with France at the 2018 World Cup. After coming on in the 66th minute, with Argentina down 4-2, he scored in injury time. But it was too little too late. Argentine fans still lament what could have been. -- Sachin Dave Chandan


53. David De Gea

Spanish soccer player

Search Score: 3
Endorsements: $7 million
Social following: 11.8 million
Last year's rank: Newcomer

The David De Gea transfer saga dominated the news, but the Spanish stopper's biggest moment, as far as Google is concerned, was his howler at the World Cup that allowed Cristiano Ronaldo to put Portugal ahead in the 44th minute against Spain. That mistake fed into a shaky start to the current Premier League season, but "Sticky Gloves" has since rebounded. Since December, he's had the third-best save percentage in England's top flight. -- Dan Hajducky


54. Derrick Rose

American basketball player

Search Score: 7
Endorsements: $13 million
Social following: 10.4 million
Last year's rank: 36

This November, the point guard posted a career-high 50 points to lead the Wolves to a three-point win over the Jazz, becoming the most-discussed topic on the internet that day besides Halloween, and reigniting the conversation over the 2016 sexual assault allegation against him. -- Charlotte Gibson


55. Paulo Dybala

Argentinian soccer player

Search score: 4
Endorsements: $4.03 million
Social following: 24.7 million
Last year's rank: 29

Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli didn't seem to know what to do with his embarrassment of attacking riches at the World Cup. One of those unused gems was Paulo Dybala, who appeared only once as a sub in his country's group-stage loss to Croatia, depriving the world of a chance to see his signature "mask" goal celebration. -- Sachin Dave Chandan


56. Dani Alves

Brazilian soccer player

Search Score: 2
Endorsements: $8.75 million
Social following: 21.5 million
Last year's rank: 60

Dani Alves, 35, missed what is likely his final World Cup last summer with an injury, but he can take comfort in the fact that he is the most decorated active player in the world. Alves injured his knee while winning the Coupe de France with PSG, the 38th trophy of his long career. -- Sachin Dave Chandan


57. Colin Kaepernick

American football player

Search Score: 24
Endorsements: $13.41 million
Social following: 3.2 million
Last year's rank: Newcomer

After months of silence, the man who gave up an NFL career in the name of social justice, emerged with an inspirational commercial and multimillion-dollar deal with Nike. Cue sneaker-burning and Twitter-ranting from his ideological enemies, and hand-wringing and soul-searching from supporters on the question of whether our moral heroes are allowed to turn a profit. -- Dotun Akintoye


58. Karim Benzema

French soccer player

Search Score: 3
Endorsements: $2.9 million
Social following: 25.3 million
Last year's rank: 45

Hours before Cristiano Ronaldo announced his departure from Real Madrid, teammate Karim Benzema sent out a tweet that sounded oddly like a goodbye message. "It's been nine years since I put on the Real Madrid shirt for the first time," he posted with a photo of him waving. "Thank you to the president, the club, the players, and all the trainers." The post fueled speculation that Madrid would suffer another high-profile defection. Much to the relief of many, he stayed. -- Dan Hajducky


59. Eden Hazard

Belgian soccer player

Search Score: 13
Endorsements: $5.3 million
Social following: 17.6 million
Last year's rank: 85

Eden Hazard led Belgium to its best World Cup finish in 2018, but he certainly wasn't happy after being knocked out by France in the semis. The Chelsea superstar not only hit out at France's "anti-football" approach but went on to say, "I prefer to lose with this Belgium than win with this France." Would you really, though, Eden? -- Gus Elvin


60. Luka Modric

Croatian soccer player

Search Score: 16
Endorsements: $5.25 million
Social following: 16.1 million
Last year's rank: Newcomer

If anyone was going to break Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo's 10-year stranglehold on the Ballon d'Or, no one thought it would be a diminutive, metronomic playmaker in the Croatia midfield. But Luka Modric not only pipped those players to soccer's biggest individual accolade but scooped up the Golden Ball for the World Cup's best player in leading his nation to the final. -- Dan Hajducky


61. Philippe Coutinho

Brazilian soccer player

Search Score: 15
Endorsements: $3.1 million
Social following: 19.3 million
Last year's rank: 44

After a frustrating 90 minutes of gridlock against Costa Rica at the World Cup, Philippe Coutinho finally delivered the breakthrough in the 91st minute, toeing home from close range to lift the Seleçao. His team would be eliminated in the quarters by Belgium, but, for one day at least, Coutinho, not Neymar, was the most popular man in Brazil. -- Gus Elvin


62. David Luiz

Brazilian soccer player

Search Score: 1
Endorsements: $1.3 million
Social following: 24.9 million
Last year's rank: 55

The Chelsea defender with the Sideshow Bob hair endured an abject 2017-18 league campaign, which meant he lost his place in Brazil's World Cup squad. David Luiz made good use of the free time. He and his family traveled to Dubai, where he swam with dolphins, visited the Burj Khalifa skyscraper and went flyboarding -- all while sharing his adventures with his 18.6 million Instagram followers. -- Dan Hajducky


63. Anthony Joshua

English boxer

Search Score: 27
Endorsements: $7 million
Social following: 7.7 million
Last year's rank: 46

Two fights, two victories for the undefeated British heavyweight superstar in 2018. Anthony Joshua's biggest moment came when he beat Joseph Parker on points back in March in Cardiff, and he followed that up with a seventh-round TKO of Alexander Povetkin, who troubled the Brit in the early stages at Wembley. But still there's an itch that cannot be satisfied until a unification fight with American Deontay Wilder. -- Tom Hamilton


64. Yuzuru Hanyu

Japanese figure skater

Search Score: 22
Endorsements: $13.41 million
Social following: 0
Last year's rank: 70

For four minutes in February, Yuzuru Hanyu transfixed the world. When the Japanese figure skater stepped out onto the ice at the Pyeongchang Olympics for his long program, it was easy to forget that just weeks before, he couldn't even practice his jumps because of a right ankle injury. But when he was done and the Winnie the Pooh dolls began raining down, we all knew the gold medal was his. -- Aishwarya Kumar


65. Carmelo Anthony

American basketball player

Search Score: 6
Endorsements: $7 million
Social following: 9.1 million
Last year's rank: 43

Plopping one of the NBA's most notorious ball-stoppers and volume scorers into the caboose of a finely tuned, efficiency-fetishizing Mike D'Antoni-helmed freight train seems smart, right? Rockets general manager Daryl Morey thought so. But after Carmelo Anthony's Houston stint (10 games, a career-low 11.2 player efficiency rating and five whole assists), reality begged to differ. And Anthony found himself out of a job. -- Dan Appenfeller


66. Gerard Pique

Spanish soccer player

Search Score: 5
Endorsements: $3.8 million
Social following: 18.6 million
Last year's rank: Newcomer

Gerard Pique's unusual handball in Spain's World Cup knockout match not only allowed Russia to pull level but also awoke the Twitter trolls. Some even speculated that the arm-up routine was a new dance move taught to him by his partner, Shakira, who happens to be even more famous than the Catalan footballer. -- Gus Elvin


67. Valentino Rossi

Italian motorcycle road racer

Search Score: 5
Endorsements: $6.98 million
Social following: 13.2 million
Last year's rank: Newcomer

It's safe to say Valentino Rossi was not happy after the Argentina Moto GP in April. In a race full of controversy, from tire changes to pit-lane posturing, world champion Marc Marquez rode into the side of Rossi's Yamaha and forced him onto the grass, effectively taking him out. Marquez was hit with a 30-second penalty, and Rossi accused the Spaniard of a lack of respect and "destroying the sport." -- Tom Hamilton


68. Canelo Alvarez

Mexican boxer

Search Score: 44
Endorsements: $2.5 million
Social following: 4 million
Last year's rank: 58

Not without controversy, the superstar Mexican boxer picked up the biggest win of his career in September over previously undefeated Gennady Golovkin. Their rematch was the fourth-largest gate in Nevada boxing history and sold 1.1 million pay-per-views. So powerful is the drawing power of Canelo Alvarez that streaming service DAZN signed him to a $365 million deal, the richest athlete contract in history. -- Sachin Dave Chandan


69. Stan Wawrinka

Swiss tennis player

Search Score: 1
Endorsements: $18.3 million
Social following: 1.7 million
Last year's rank: 76

Wimbledon 2018 will be remembered on the men's side for Novak Djokovic's comeback, but Stan Wawrinka's first-round upset over sixth-seed Grigor Dimitrov announced his return after two knee operations and a year away from the game. To top it off, the three-time Grand Slam champ's partner, Donna Vekic, upset fourth seed Sloane Stephens on the same day. -- Tom Hamilton


70. Chris Paul

American basketball player

Search Score: 7
Endorsements: $7 million
Social following: 8.3 million
Last year's rank: 52

In the waning minutes of Game 5 of the Western Conference finals, Chris Paul injured his right hamstring, casting doubt on whether he'd be able to play in rest of the Rockets' series against the Warriors. After sitting out Game 6, he was listed as a game-time decision for Game 7, leading everyone to literally Google all day if he was playing. He didn't, and the Warriors went on to win the series and ultimately the NBA championship. Again. -- Katie Barnes


71. Drew Brees

American football player

Search Score: 7
Endorsements: $13 million
Social following: 3.1 million
Last year's rank: 47

Up by 14 and driving against Washington in Week 5, Brees found himself 35 yards short of Peyton Manning's career passing yards record. He slung a 62-yard touchdown bomb; his teammates and family engulfed him; Pro Football Hall of Fame president C. David Baker took the field for an awkward, semi-planned in-game commemoration. And the Saints were penalized 15 yards for taunting on the play. -- Dan Appenfeller>


72. Alexis Sanchez

Chilean soccer player

Search Score: 24
Endorsements: $3.8 million
Social following: 9.6 million
Last year's rank: 40

It's never easy to swap one top Premier League side for another, and Alexis Sanchez's move from Arsenal to Manchester United generated plenty of heat. One pundit called him "football's biggest mercenary," while Sanchez hit out at his critics "who have spoken with no knowledge of what happens inside the club." He had the ultimate revenge in January 2019 when he scored to help United knock Arsenal out of the FA Cup. -- Dan Hajducky


73. Toni Kroos

German soccer player

Search Score: 6
Endorsements: $2.5 million
Social following: 20.1 million
Last year's rank: 73

Germany was down by a man and tied 1-1 with Sweden in the 95th minute, its dreams of defending the World Cup practically over. Then, Toni Kroos whipped the ball into the top right corner of the goal from a free kick. The world erupted. Germany was ultimately eliminated in the next game, but for one glorious moment, Kroos gave a nation hope. -- Elaine Teng


74. Toni Kroos

Indian cricket player

Search Score: 1
Endorsements: $6.98 million
Social following: 9.1 million
Last year's rank: 80

Imagine if one morning Lionel Messi suddenly moved to Real Madrid. That's what it felt like when Harbhajan Singh walked onto the field in the bright yellow jersey of the Chennai Super Kings last April after playing for fierce rivals Mumbai Indians since 2008. According to Twitter data, it was the league's most talked-about transfer. -- Aishwarya Kumar


75. Andy Murray

Scottish tennis player

Search Score: 2
Endorsements: $13 million
Social following: 3.6 million
Last year's rank: 56

"I've been struggling for a long time," Andy Murray said, on the verge of tears at the 2019 Australian Open. After three Grand Slam wins and a long battle with a hip injury, the greatest British tennis player of the modern era announced that his first-round defeat at the Australian Open could be his final match, sparking a wave of tributes from pros and fans alike. -- Tom Hamilton


76. Klay Thompson

American basketball player

Search Score: 3
Endorsements: $13 million
Social following: 5.8 million
Last year's rank: Newcomer

What would you do if you won a third NBA title in four years? If you're Klay Thompson, you lounge in a gold bathtub filled with Moet & Chandon champagne bottles. If this photo alone weren't enough, Thompson also took selfies on the podium at the postgame news conference before running offstage to check his Wikipedia page -- to find that it said "three-time champion Klay Thompson." Party on! -- Charlotte Gibson


77. Russell Wilson

American football player

Search Score: 3
Endorsements: $10 million
Social following: 5.4 million
Last year's rank: 81

Russell Wilson's biggest moment -- at least according to the Googling public -- came not when he outdueled MVP Patrick Mahomes or carried the Seahawks to the playoffs but when he was traded from MLB's Texas Rangers to the New York Yankees. He struck out in his first at-bat of spring training, but he's already announced his plans to return in 2019. -- Dan Appenfeller


78. Gennady Golovkin

Kazakhstani boxer

Search Score: 40
Endorsements: $2 million
Social following: 3.4 million
Last year's rank: 61

After a dubious split decision draw in their first superfight, the rematch of Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez yielded another controversial decision, this time a majority win for the Mexican. GGG believes he outfought Canelo the first time and outboxed him the second time and -- because, in more ways than one, this is the hurt business --- went unrewarded both times. -- Dotun Akintoye


79. Cesc Fabregas

Spanish soccer player

Search Score: 1
Endorsements: $5 million
Social following: 10.3 million
Last year's rank: 62

Ahead of his impending transfer, Cesc Fabregas bid an emotional farewell to Chelsea during an FA Cup win over Nottingham Forest in January. Fabregas, 31, exited after 4 1/2 seasons at Stamford Bridge, having won two league titles and four total trophies. We still haven't determined whether the tears were more about leaving Chelsea or joining relegation-threatened Monaco! -- Gus Elvin


80. Gonzalo Higuain

Argentinian soccer player

Search Score: 7
Endorsements: $6 million
Social following: 6.8 million
Last year's rank: Newcomer

AC Milan swapped defender Leonardo Bonucci for Juventus' Gonzalo Higuain in a blockbuster deal ahead of the season. Serie A's most prolific striker over the past five seasons, Higuain was touted as Milan's savior and the player who could get the struggling club back into the Champions League. Six months and 22 matches later, Higuain now plays for Chelsea. -- Gus Elvin


81. Isco

Spanish soccer player

Search Score: 2
Endorsements: $5 million
Social following: 16.4 million
Last year's rank: Newcomer

In retrospect, it seems inevitable that Spain would have a poor World Cup after firing manager Julen Lopetegui just two days before the tournament. Nobody took its round-of-16 loss at the hands of Russia harder than midfielder Isco, who posted on Instagram: "Today is the saddest day of my career. But, this is football and it does not stop, life does not stop." -- Gus Elvin


82. Aaron Rodgers

American football player

Search Score: 13
Endorsements: $7.5 million
Social following: 4.5 million
Last year's rank: 59

Less than 20 minutes into Green Bay's season, Packers fans watched in horror as Rodgers hobbled into a cart on the sideline after being clobbered by the Bears' Khalil Mack. By mid-third quarter, with his team down 20, Rodgers had somehow returned. And when the clock hit zeros, the quarterback had led the largest fourth-quarter comeback in Packers history. As if it could have gone any other way.-- Dan Appenfeller


83. Manny Pacquiao

Filipino boxer

Search Score: 15
Endorsements: $2.5 million
Social following: 11.6 million
Last year's rank: 63

Now 40 years old, with a ring legacy in no need of burnishing (though perhaps with pockets in need of replenishing) and a controversial political career in tow, Manny Pacquiao entered the ring against much younger and perennially distracted Adrien Broner. The beatdown Pacquiao administered was predictable, but the 400,000 PPV numbers he put up? Few saw that coming. -- Dotun Akintoye


84. Dwight Howard

American basketball player

Search Score: 12
Endorsements: $3.5 million
Social following: 6.8 million
Last year's rank: Newcomer

Dwight Howard has played only nine games for the Wizards this season because of a back injury. But on Nov. 25, his name was trending after it showed up on a gossip site and NBA Twitter went to work. Howard never responded to the frenzy. -- Anthony Olivieri


85. Giannis Antetokounmpo

Greek basketball player

Search Score: 2
Endorsements: $13 million
Social following: 3.5 million
Last year's rank: Newcomer

A "60 Minutes" segment on Giannis Antetokounmpo last March started like this: There's an NBA player whose name you might not know, and it's hard to pronounce. His athleticism? Legendary. His backstory? Unique. A teenager from Athens has fixed a global gaze on, ahem, Milwaukee. The segment piqued more interest in the Bucks' star -- an MVP candidate on the East's best team -- than his on-court freak show has in six years. But there's just one thing: Before being interviewed, Giannis had never heard of the CBS Sunday institution. -- Anthony Olivieri


86. Yi Jianlian

Chinese basketball player

Search Score: 1
Endorsements: $6.98 million
Social following: 14.4 million
Last year's rank: Newcomer

Other than a short-lived comeback with the Lakers in the 2016 preseason, Yi Jianlian hasn't played in the NBA since making a cameo in the 2012 playoffs. Why was he trending in October? Peak interest came months after he appeared on a Chinese reality show and weeks before his milestone in the Chinese Basketball Association, where the former CBA MVP became just the second player to score 10,000 points. -- Anthony Olivieri


87. Damian Lillard

American basketball player

Search Score: 1
Endorsements: $13 million
Social following: 4.8 million
Last year's rank: 51

Three days after LeBron James announced his move to the Lakers, Damian Lillard was asked the following on Twitter: Would you be happy if you were traded to LeBron's Lakers? Lillard's answer: "I'm typically a happy camper." Translation: It's not out of the question! That sent NBA Twitter into overdrive. The Blazers' All-Star guard, who has never been to the conference finals, won't be an unrestricted free agent until 2021. But as always, we can dare to dream. -- Anthony Olivieri


88. Javier Hernandez

Mexican soccer player

Search Score: 6
Endorsements: $9.9 million
Social following: 5.1 million
Last year's rank: 65

Mexico's leading career goal scorer was at it again in Russia, providing the winning assist to Chucky Lozano in an upset of defending champion Germany in the group stage of the World Cup. Mexico had entered the game as a +600 underdog. Six days later, Chicharito netted his 50th international goal, against South Korea, becoming only the sixth CONCACAF player to hit that benchmark. -- Dan Hajducky


89. Carson Wentz

American football player

Search Score: 11
Endorsements: $11 million
Social following: 1 million
Last year's rank: Newcomer

Without playing a single snap, Carson Wentz had a huge week to start February 2018. On Sunday, Feb. 4, he watched from the sideline as Nick Foles (his backup) led the Eagles to an electrifying 41-33 Super Bowl victory over New England. And by Tuesday, he was engaged to his longtime girlfriend, making already excitable Eagles Twitter somehow even more emotional. -- Dan Appenfeller


90. Shakib Al Hasan

Bangladeshi cricket player

Search Score: 1
Endorsements: $6.98 million
Social following: 10.7 million
Last year's rank: Newcomer

With Bangladesh's hopes of advancing to the final of the Nidahas Trophy T20 hanging by a thread, captain Shakib Al Hasan stormed over to the umpire to dispute a call. He even threatened to call his batsman off the field, essentially refusing to play. Fortunately for Bangladesh, he decided against it, and the team went on to win a nail-biter. Unfortunately for Al Hasan, he was slapped with a hefty fine for his behavior. -- Aishwarya Kumar


91. Jerome Boateng

German soccer player

Search Score: 3
Endorsements: $11 million
Social following: 5.9 million
Last year's rank: Newcomer

Germany endured its worst World Cup ever, embodied perhaps by Jerome Boateng being sent off in the team's group game against Sweden in June. The 30-year-old Bayern Munich defender has been criticized by his club for his focus on off-pitch activities, including charity work, a designer glasses label and a partnership with Jay-Z, which he insists has nothing to do with his dip in form. -- Gus Elvin


92. Mushfiqur Rahim

Bangladeshi cricket player

Search Score: 1
Endorsements: $7.57 million
Social following: 9.1 million
Last year's rank: Newcomer

Cricket fans have seen their share of bizarre celebrations. Remember when the entire Pakistan team did pushups after beating England, or when Sourav Ganguly ripped off his shirt and danced after India beat England at Lord's? Now there's Mushfiqur Rahim. After helping Bangladesh score an impressive five-wicket win over Sri Lanka during a tri-series tournament, Rahim broke into a cobra dance known in South Asia as the "Nagin Dance." Cue the memes. -- Aishwarya Kumar


93. Sania Mirza

Indian tennis player

Search Score: 2
Endorsements: $2.13 million
Social following: 12.4 million
Last year's rank: 100

Everyone's favorite Indo-Pakistani couple, tennis star Sania Mirza and cricketer Shoaib Malik, nearly broke the internet when they announced her pregnancy in April by posting an image of a "Mirza-Malik" baby jersey. The only news that could top that? The baby boy's arrival in October, posted with the hashtag #BabyMirzaMalik. Now we're just waiting to see which he'll pick up: the cricket bat or the tennis racquet ... or both! -- Aishwarya Kumar


94. Shikhar Dhawan

Indian cricket player

Search Score: 1
Endorsements: $7.57 million
Social following: 8.8 million
Last year's rank: 94

India cricket fans won't forget Shikhar Dhawan's spectacular 210-run opening partnership with Rohit Sharma in September for two reasons: India beat Pakistan by nine wickets and went on to win the Asia Cup; and Dhawan's performance prompted his wife, boxer Ayesha Mukherjee, to blow him a kiss from the sideline -- a rare public display of affection. -- Aishwarya Kumar


95. Gianluigi Buffon

Italian soccer player

Search Score: 8
Endorsements: $6.9 million
Social following: 6.8 million
Last year's rank: Newcomer

After wiping out a three-goal deficit against Real Madrid in the Champions League quarterfinals, Juventus was poised for a miracle comeback before a controversial stoppage-time penalty called by referee Michael Oliver. What followed was legendary Italy keeper Gianluigi Buffon's nearly physical confrontation with Oliver and the second-most-famous red card for a football icon this century. -- Dotun Akintoye


96. Robert Lewandowski

Polish soccer player

Search Score: 5
Endorsements: $2.9 million
Social following: 13.8 million
Last year's rank: 84

Robert Lewandowski went into the World Cup with high hopes, having scored a European record of 16 goals in qualifying. But his Poland side was thrashed 3-0 by Colombia, putting its chances of advancing out of Group H in peril. To make matters worse, Lewandowski's tongue-in-cheek pretournament tweet to Bayern teammate James Rodriguez about "remembering my goals" backfired, as he finished the tournament goalless. -- Gus Elvin


97. Rob Gronkowski

American football player

Search Score: 8
Endorsements: $8 million
Social following: 3 million
Last year's rank: Newcomer

With Super Bowl heartbreak still fresh a year ago, Gronkowski's phone was reportedly ringing off the hook -- from the likes of Sly Stallone and The Rock, trying to persuade the exuberant yo soy fiesta tight end to ditch the gridiron for Hollywood. Seriously. Gronk opted for another season of beatings in football, and even picked up his third ring, but worry not: The retirement rumor mill began churning seconds after the Pats' snoozefest victory in February, and the silver screen will likely beckon again this offseason. -- Dan Appenfeller


98. Mashrafe Bin Mortaza

Bangladeshi cricket player

Search Score: 1
Endorsements: $7.57 million
Social following: 8.5 million
Last year's rank: Newcomer

Over the past decade, Mashrafe Bin Mortaza has become synonymous with Bangladeshi cricket. With his warm personality and stellar bowling, he has helped transform Bangladesh into a serious contender on the international circuit. In September, he led Bangladesh to the final of the 2018 Asia Cup, where it came within three wickets of beating seven-time champ India. "I hope we won a lot of hearts," Mortaza said afterward. "We fought 'til the last ball." -- Aishwarya Kumar


99. Bryce Harper

American baseball player

Search Score: 3
Endorsements: $13 million
Social following: 1.4 million
Last year's rank: Newcomer

After months of will-they, won't-they fits and starts -- Bryce is chatting with Rhys Hoskins! Bryce told his friends that Philly wasn't his first choice! Bryce followed Joel Embiid on Instagram! -- that saw megadeal-meister Scott Boras grow more than a few gray hairs, Harper finally secured the bag and signed with the Phillies. Three-hundred and thirty million dollars, 13 years -- only for Harper to say in his first presser that he wants to "bring a title back to D.C." Geography is hard. -- Dan Appenfeller


100. Blake Griffin

American basketball player

Search Score: 7
Endorsements: $6 million
Social following: 4.4 million
Last year's rank: 64

Blake Griffin was known for high-flying dunks (sorry, Timofey Mozgov), memorable commercials (nice job, Kia) and a catchy nickname (Lob City, anyone?). He even tried acting and stand-up comedy. He was so L.A. But in January 2018, he was traded to Detroit. Ouch. On the day of the trade, everyone wanted to know if he'll be worth the money in Motown. So far, so good. -- Anthony Olivieri


This story appears in ESPN The Magazine's April 2019 World Fame 100 Issue. Subscribe today!