Ronaldo, Messi, Brady: Who is the world’s most famous athlete?

  • Rob Swan

Who is the most famous athlete in the world right now?

Many Americans would probably say NFL star Tom Brady after he won the Super Bowl for a seventh time last weekend.

But what about the rest of the world?

Brady is certainly up there but in terms of global popularity, American Football pales in comparison to other sports.

According to, football is the world’s most popular sport by far, boasting four billion fans across the globe.

Second is cricket (2.5 billion), followed by hockey (2 billion) and tennis (1 billion).

Who knows how accurate these stats are, but it’s safe to assume that more people across the world follow football more closely than the NFL.

Tweet lists world's most famous athletes

However, a tweet from @TheHerd listing the world’s most famous athletes from 2018 is currently being shared on social media following Brady’s latest triumph.

It suggests this is the order:

10. Roger Federer


9. Floyd Mayweather


8. Serena Williams


7. Aaron Rodgers


6. Lionel Messi


5. Cristiano Ronaldo


4. Steph Curry


3. Tiger Woods


2. LeBron James


1. Tom Brady


Ronaldo only fifth? Messi outside the top five?

Piers Morgan: Messi & Ronaldo more famous than Brady

One person who completely disagrees is British broadcaster Piers Morgan, who tweeted: “Hate to burst your US-centric bubble, but Ronaldo & Messi are 100x more famous globally than Brady….”


Morgan’s tweet has sparked plenty of reaction, as you can probably imagine…

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The BBC’s Dan Walker doesn’t see eye-to-eye with Piers on many things, but he appeared to be in agreement on this one.

“Ronaldo, Messi & Woods have to be the top 3,” he tweeted.


Because of football’s global popularity, both Morgan and Walker are surely right: Messi and Ronaldo should both be higher up the list, if not at the very top.

Wherever you travel in the world, people have heard of both footballers. Can the same be said of Brady?

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