ESPN Presents the 2017 World Fame 100 List

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ESPN Presents the 2017 World Fame 100 List

To download cover:

  • Cristiano Ronaldo claims top spot once again
  • Global multimedia initiative includes extensive editorial package with features on Kevin Durant, Ryan Lochte, Serena Williams and more  
  • ESPN The Magazine’s World Fame 100 Issue hits newsstands June 2, with No. 4 Roger Federer on the cover

Today the ESPN World Fame 100 returns with a new list that catalogs the most famous athletes around the world. Debuting last year, World Fame 100 is ESPN’s ranking of the 100 most famous active athletes in the world (retired athletes are not considered for the list). The ranking is based on a formula devised by ESPN director of sports analytics Ben Alamar, which combines endorsements, social media reach and other data to create a comparative ranking system.

The ESPN World Fame 100 has been released today on ESPN digital editions in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, MexicoVenezuela and U.K., as well in the U.S. on and ESPN Deportes, in Africa via KweseESPN, in India via SonyESPN and China via Tencent’s QQ Sports. Content from the global multimedia project will be produced in Spanish, Portuguese and Mandarin Chinese. In addition to multiple global feature stories, local editorial teams around the world are producing features on key athletes of relevance, and each of the 100 athletes has a short summary addressing why the athlete is famous, a wild-card category that references his/her fame, a quote from or about the athlete and other key information.

The top 10 athletes in the ESPN World Fame 100 are:

  1. Cristiano Ronaldo
  2. LeBron James
  3. Lionel Messi
  4. Roger Federer
  5. Phil Mickelson
  6. Neymar
  7. Usain Bolt
  8. Kevin Durant
  9. Rafael Nadal
  10. Tiger Woods

Included in the extensive World Fame 100 editorial package are features on global superstars like tennis legend Roger Federer, the world’s fastest man, Usain Bolt, NBA star Kevin Durant, MMA star Conor McGregor, F1 champion Lewis Hamilton, and footballers Paul Pogba, Didier Drogba, Radamel Falcao and Javier Hernandez. The World Fame 100 project also includes stories from around the world that examine athletes whose fame may be more concentrated in some parts of the world, like Yuvraj Singh in India, and those whose fame as individual sportsmen and women might surprise — like Jason Day and Eugenie Bouchard.

As part of the overall package, ESPN The Magazine has dedicated an entire issue to World Fame 100, slated to hit newsstands Friday, June 2. The issue includes features on the following athletes:

  • Roger Federer: As the most revered men’s tennis player in the world and a living, competing legend, Federer has inspired awe, and his matches have been glorified. Yet, little is known about the extremely private player’s life outside the game. Senior writer Kurt Streeter gets Federer to open up about himself, sitting with the legend and exploring his views on fame and his fans in the magazine’s cover story. (Link:
  • Cristiano Ronaldo: At 32, Ronaldo is better than ever and leading Real Madrid to a historic season, thanks to some unexpected advice from his unlikely manager, Zinedine Zidane. In his second season as Real Madrid manager, Zidane, a footballing legend of both great fame and infamy (the world watched his head butt in the 2006 World Cup final), has led the club to its first La Liga title in five years and a second straight Champions League Final, all with a squad of superstars well under his control. As ESPN FC’s Sid Lowe discovers, it takes a legend to coach legends.
  • Usain Bolt: In coordination with The Undefeated, senior writer Jesse Washington tells the story of how the fastest human alive is in no hurry to walk away from the spotlight.
  • Kevin Durant: For his entire basketball life, Kevin Durant had been a gym rat, every thought and fiber devoted to the game he loves, which brought him fame and fortune beyond his wildest dreams. But after a foot injury in 2015, Durant realized for the first time that he wanted his life to be more than about basketball. This awakening, in many ways, informed his decision to leave Oklahoma City for Oakland. Yet no matter how often Durant insists the move was not merely to win a championship, there’s a cadre of naysayers who don’t believe him. The narrative is clear: If the Warriors win a title, Durant will have accomplished what everyone expects. If they lose, he is the guy who still can’t get it done. Columnist Jackie MacMullan tells the story of that awakening, what he thinks his broader calling is and how basketball fits into his future.
  • Ryan Lochte: S. swimming sensation Ryan Lochte has been trying to rehab his image—not just from the infamous gas station incident at the 2016 Rio Olympics but the wider perception that he’s, well, a glorified bro. But just how real is the makeover? Senior writer Allison Glock takes a deeper look into Lochte’s unpreparedness for fame and all that it entails, and his new perspective on life as he and his fiancée are expecting their first child together.
  • Lewis Hamilton: When it comes to global fame, there are few athletes who can catch Lewis Hamilton. Part of that is his day job, flying around a racetrack at 200 mph, while another is his jet-setting, hard-partying ways. Some criticize his globe-trotting lifestyle—spending Easter with Kim and Kanye, bowling with Lindsay Vonn and welcoming celebs like Justin Bieber into the pits—but as senior writer Wayne Drehs discovers, Hamilton doesn’t care. The bottom line: He wins.
  • Fame FAQ: We ask Caroline Wozniacki, Ezekiel Elliott, Simone Biles, Jimmie Johnson and J.J. Watt what it’s like to be famous–from using their name to get into the best parties and restaurants to crazy fan encounters.
  • Serena Williams: Poet and essayist Morgan Parker reflects on how Serena Williams has always inspired her, how rare and special it’s been to watch Williams grow from a phenomenon to a constant, a black woman who isn’t of one single era but who can move through time and grow and change and find success at every stage.

Also in the issue:

  • Senior writer Seth Wickersham writes the exclusive tale of a rift within the Seattle Seahawks—pitting star corner Richard Sherman on one side and coach Pete Carroll and QB Russell Wilson on the other—that stems from coming up 1 yard short in Super Bowl XLIX. (Link:
  • A year after Muhammad Ali died, Tom Junod tells the tale of the chosen few who returned the iconic boxer to his final resting place.
  • In his Voices column, senior writer Buster Olney says it’s time to get rid of baseball’s retaliatory beanball. (Link:
  • In “How They Got That Body,” we spotlight Cubs ace Jake Arrieta, who uses Pilates and a steady diet of kale to stay fit during road trips.


Media contacts: 

Paul Melvin                   (860) 766-5069 or [email protected]

Carrie Kreiswirth           (646) 547-4686 or [email protected]

Angela Yang                 (646) 547-5631 or [email protected]

Angela Yang

I am a Senior Publicist in ESPN Communications based in New York, focusing on affiliate and digital PR. I am a proud University of Georgia alum, graduating with a double major in Public Relations and Sociology. Prior to joining ESPN, I worked in entertainment publicity at NBCUniversal, FOX and Turner in Los Angeles. Born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, I am a die-hard Atlanta Falcons and Georgia Bulldogs fan.
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