With money, fame and success comes fan following. Sport stars are celebrities in today’s world and whatever they do is placed under increasing scrutiny thanks to the internet, social media and their enormous worldwide reach.
Footballers, basketball players, tennis or cricket stars and Olympic athletes all have their own set of fan followers.
Sports stars have become brands on their own, social media their tool to promote associations, increase endorsement deals and shape their image within the media.
It also gives us insight into their lives away from the pitch, and a Leo Messi photograph with his son Thiago, or a photo of Cristiano Ronaldo working out in the gym, is bound make followers go gaga.
Nowadays, the race to see who the better athlete is includes who has the most followers and likes.
And our friends over at Instagram have been sharing with us some of the athletes who staked their claims through social media this past year, including this piece on the athletes that gained the most followers in 2016.