Most Famous Athletes – Top-tier professional athletes have been celebrities since just about the day before forever. It was nearly a century ago when New York Yankees legend Babe Ruth was featured in advertising campaigns and in movies. In some ways, Ruth provided the blueprint for how modern-day athletes can turn themselves into brands.
It is no longer rare for a well-known athlete to branch out and embrace business endeavors that have nothing to do with their day jobs. Athletes are now businessmen and businesswomen, stars in movies and in advertisements and people who are famous not only in their own countries but all around the world.
It should be no surprise to anybody who follows mainstream sports that the individual deemed by theESPN World Fame 100 to be the most famous athlete in the world is a soccer/world football star. What may be somewhat surprising, however, is that the second person on that list is an athlete who has been a National Basketball Association personality for over a decade. Media rights deals and also online streaming has helped grow the popularity of the NBA like never before, and thus the question has to be asked: Are we only a couple of years away from the most famous athlete in the world being somebody who plays in the NBA?
10. Rafael Nadal
The days of Rafael Nadal being the best tennis player in the world are now a thing in the past, as Nadal is seemingly no longer in his prime. This has not stopped him from being featured in international advertising campaigns as he was during the 2015 edition of the U.S. Open. Who will ever forget that dazzling and sensational Wimbledon thriller involving Nadal and Roger Federer? Whether or not that was, in fact, the greatest single tennis match ever played will be debated for as long as the sport exists, but those of us who were lucky enough to catch it will always feel grateful to both Nadal and Federer for what they gave to us and to the sport on that day.