ESPN World Fame 100

Our fourth annual ranking of the biggest names in sports and the moments, as measured by Google Trends, that got them there.

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How do you know you're famous? When everyone is talking about you, or in this day and age, looking you up on Google. For our fourth annual World Fame 100, we bring you each athlete's most searched moment worldwide, as measured by Google Trends. To identify the 100 most famous athletes in the world, we started with 800 of the biggest names in sports, drawn from 78 countries. We then ranked them based on a formula that took into account three fame factors:


Search score

Measuring how often a name is searched on Google. We took a weighted average of an athlete's Google Trends peak score (how much he spiked on his most searched day) and his average score (how much he was searched throughout 2018, on average.)


Endorsement dollars

Our sources ranged from Forbes to ESPN contributors.


Social media followers

Since not all athletes are on every platform, we used only the number from their most popular account.

Simple, right? Now for the fine print: If we could not find accurate endorsement figures, we estimated an athlete's endorsement dollars based on the search, social and endorsement data for all athletes under review. Those athletes are: Tyson Fury, Ninja, Colin Kaepernick, Yuzuru Hanyu, Valentino Rossi, Harbhajan Singh, Yi Jianlian, Shakib Al-Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mashrafe Mortaza, Sun Yang and Shikhar Dhawan. For Chinese athletes, we used Weibo social numbers because Google and Western social platforms have been blocked in China.

If an athlete had no confirmed social media account, we marked a 0 for social media. Endorsement figures are from the 2018 and 2017-18 seasons. All data and foreign currency conversions are as of Dec. 7.

Lessons from the World Fame 100  |  2018  |  2017  |  2016

Primary research by Sachin Dave Chandan and Charlotte Gibson. Additional research and support by Fernando Olivieri and ESPN Stats and Information.

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