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ESPN The Magazine’s third annual World Fame 100, ranking the most famous athletes from around the world, hits newsstands this Friday. Over 600 of the biggest names in sports, drawn from 68 countries, were ranked based on a formula that took into account three fame factors: endorsement dollars, Google Trend score, and social media following. Cristiano Ronaldo nabbed the No. 1 spot for the third straight year, with LeBron James and Lionel Messi following close behind.
Every athlete has a story to tell about fame – Lionel Messi endures it, Kevin Durant cultivates it, Virat Kohli despises it, and Caroline Wozniacki transcends it. All four of these famous athletes grace the cover of the World Fame 100 issue and are among the deep dives looking at some of the top athletes on 2018’s list.
In “Stay Messi, My Friend,” ESPN’s global sports contributor Sam Borden argues that Lionel Messi only seems like the least interesting man in the world. But listen closely and his silence speaks louder than most athletes’ shouts. Sports business reporter Darren Rovell’s Kevin Durant piece looks at how the NBA champion and MVP is rapidly approaching a new title now – tycoon – now that he’s posted up in Silicon Valley. Senior writer Wright Thompson highlights India’s best cricketer Virat Kohli, who lives with the suffocating, infuriating, frightening trappings of fame but feels its seductiveness all the same. And, in “When No. 1 Isn’t Enough,” Allison Glock talks with Caroline Wozniacki, who says she’s never chased fame, only tennis excellence. But her search for fulfillment has been a longer, tougher journey.
Other features in the World Fame 100 include editor Elaine Teng’s look at why Japanese gold medal skater Yuzuru Hanyu inspires such a devoted following and the “Another Year of Living Famously” feature, which looks at what grabbed attention over the last 12 months.
Also in this issue:
“What’s in a Name?”: With the founder of Bikram yoga facing sexual assault allegations, it seems simple: Studios should distance themselves from his name. But it’s not so easy. By Kate Fagan
“Secrets Within the Game”: Tom Junod set out to prove that college softball was the last refuge of joy and innocence in sports. What he uncovered instead was sexual misconduct within the coaching staff at Auburn. But as he learned over the last year, the culture of college sports is unlikely to transform from secrecy to revelation. This is not the story of how a #MeToo movement happens. It’s the story of how one doesn’t.
Hang Time: Defending IndyCar champion Josef Newgarden knows how to pick a line on the track. But can he do it live on a comedy stage? By Sam Alipour
“One Formula for Change”: An attempt to answer the question, “Have Formula One’s cars become too fast for the tracks?” By K. Lee Davis
The Walk In – Mookie Betts: He’s no Bronx Bomber, but that won’t stop the All-Star outfielder from sporting his favorite duds—wherever he wants. Behold: his bomber (jacket) in the Bronx. By Stacey Pressman
“Repatriate Games”: After 52 years of guerrilla warfare, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) surrendered its weapons to the United Nations in June 2017, ending a conflict that killed 220,000 Colombians and displaced more than 7 million. A year later, lasting peace is still uncertain. A key component is integrating an estimated 7,000 fighters into civilian life. In 26 transitional areas, like the ones we visited in remote western Colombia in January, teams of ex-rebels play soccer against soldiers and locals as they try to rejoin a nation still torn by decades of violence. By Juan Arrendondo
“How She Got That Body”: U.S. soccer star Julie Ertz uses the treadmill to shape both her body and mind. By Stevland Wilson