The Undefeated-SurveyMonkey Poll Unveils Michael Jordan as No. 1 in the 50 Greatest Black Athletes List

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The Undefeated-SurveyMonkey Poll Unveils Michael Jordan as No. 1 in the 50 Greatest Black Athletes List

  • 10-1 Unveiled Today
  • Serena Williams is Top Female Athlete at No. 6
  • USA Gymnastics Olympians Simone Biles (No. 8) and Gabby Douglas (No. 9) in Top 10

Basketball Hall of Famer Michael Jordan, the NBA legend and current owner of the Charlotte Hornets, was unveiled today as the No. 1 athlete in The Undefeated-SurveyMonkey Poll of the 50 Greatest Black Athletes. ESPN’s multiplatform content initiative on the intersections of sports, race and culture unveiled the top-10 list Tuesday online and on SportsCenter. The top-5 also features: No. 2 Jackie Robinson, No. 3 Muhammad Ali, No. 4 Willie Mays and No. 5 Jesse Owens.

Serena Williams, who has 39 career Grand Slam tennis titles (23 singles), is the top-ranked female athlete on the list at No. 6. She is joined by a pair of gold medal-winning Olympic gymnasts – Simone Biles (No. 8) and Gabby Douglas (No. 9) – as the three female athletes in the top 10. In all, seven female athletes made the 50 Greatest Black Athletes list. Others include Venus Williams (No. 15), Wilma Rudolph (No. 21), Jackie Joyner-Kersee (No. 27) and Florence Griffith Joyner (No. 33)

Every Tuesday since July 11, The Undefeated has been counting down the 50 Greatest Black Athletes, which explores the societal impact, on-field dominance, and inspiration of top African American athletes as selected by fans. The 50 Greatest Black Athletes were determined via an online survey conducted by SurveyMonkey, the world’s leading People Powered Data platform.

Athletes ranked Nos. 10-1 in The Undefeated-SurveyMonkey 50 Greatest Black Athletes poll:

The 50 Greatest Black Athletes by sport: baseball (11 athletes), basketball (10), football (9), track and field (7), boxing (6), tennis (3), gymnastics (2) and soccer (1).

***Note – Bo Jackson and Herschel Walker were counted in multiple disciplines

For the 50 Greatest Black Athletes list, SurveyMonkey polled nearly 20,000 American adults about the attributes that make athletes great. Participants were asked to rank a randomly selected group of 200 athletes on overall dominance, impact on society, and inspirational resonance. The results are representative of U.S. adults nationally.

The Undefeated writer Jerry Bembry delves into the SurveyMonkey polling results and asks the vexing question in this survey – What constitutes greatness? In a companion piece, the data journalism platform studied SurveyMonkey’s results and explained How Gender, Age And Race Shape Our View Of What Makes A Great Black Athlete.

The Undefeated is ESPN’s multiplatform content initiative exploring the intersections of sports, race and culture. The digital hub,, combines innovative long-form and short-form storytelling, investigation, original reporting and provocative commentary to enlighten and entertain.

In addition to its cutting-edge content, The Undefeated seeks to be a thought-leader on race, sports and culture in the country – convening insightful forums and other forms of engagement to discuss and debate topical issues affecting sports and race in America.

About SurveyMonkey

Founded in 1999 and based in San Mateo, California, SurveyMonkey is the world’s leading People Powered Data platform enabling curious individuals and companies – including 99% of the Fortune 500 – to have conversations at scale with the people who matter most. Whether it’s a trend in the market, opinions of customers, or voices of employees, SurveyMonkey turns them into actionable data. As a pioneer of the industry, SurveyMonkey is a trusted platform for people to express their true feelings and opinions so organizations can uncover the ‘why’ behind the data. SurveyMonkey’s 650+ employees throughout North America, Europe, and Asia Pacific are dedicated to powering the curious.

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Mac Nwulu

I joined ESPN in 1998 and since then, it's been a great experience managing PR and communications for a range of ESPN initiatives and properties over the years. I am currently focused on soccer and The Undefeated, ESPN’s site focusing on sports, race and urban culture and how they intersect.
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