Cristiano Ronaldo Juventus

The Digital 100

Last week, Forbes announced its list of the highest-paid athletes of the last year.

Seeing all that money had us shook for a little while, but when we took a closer look, we were a little surprised at some of the big names low down on the list.

That’s when we decided to utilise Fifty Insights and create the Digital 100, seeing how income matched up against social media followers, and we were very pleased with the results!

The most interesting one for us sits at No. 100 in the Forbes 100 – Virat Kohli. We have some big cricket fans in the office, and we were surprised to see someone of that stature so low down! When you sort the list by Total Followers, Kohli shoots up to No. 5, with over 100 million fans on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Moving in the other direction, you have Ben Roethlisberger. Big Ben is one of the top NFL quarterbacks, and sits 12th in terms of income. However, with a modest presence on Facebook, and no Twitter or Instagram pages, the American plummets to No. 91 in the Digital 100.

The incomparable Serena Williams is the only female athlete in the list, and while she sits at No. 64 in the Forbes 100, she is up at No. 18 in the Digital 100. Serena has been the dominant force in women’s tennis for the last two decades, and sits one spot beneath fellow tennis legend Roger Federer.

Interestingly, the Top 3 stay the same. Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Neymar are the most marketable athletes on the planet. However, no Twitter page sends Messi down to third, while Ronaldo moves up to first and is the most followed person on social media, not just in this list, but in the world.

Footballers comprise 8 of the Top 10 in the Digital 100, but only 5 of the Top 50 in the Forbes 100, suggesting they may not be quite so well paid as we thought!

There are 19 NFL players in the Forbes 100, but the highest ranks in at No. 27 on our Digital 100, while the 15 MLB players only have 1 representative in the Top 50. With 35 players in the list, the NBA has players scattered all the way through the Digital 100, with LeBron James the standout at No. 4. Interestingly, King James is the only athlete outside of the Top 3 who makes the Top 10 in both lists, which goes to show what a prolonged career of success can do to elevate you above a sport predominantly played in North America.