ESPN World Fame 100 – The 2018 list and the stories behind it


This year’s ESPN World Fame 100 is a compilation of some of the biggest names in sports. Here is everything you need to know about our list, from the newcomers to our methodology to some who might have not cracked the Top 100 but are still making an impact.

ESPN World Fame 100: The complete list

To find the 100 most famous athletes in the world, we started with 600 of the biggest names in sports, drawn from 67 countries. ESPN’s Sports Analytics Group then ranked those athletes based on a proprietary formula that took into account three fame factors: Google Trend score, social media following and endorsement dollars. Here is the breakdown:


Kevin Durant came to Golden State to win NBA championships … and picked up a wide-ranging investment portfolio along the way. KD dishes on the business side of his empire. Darren Rovell


It is hard to maintain such a humble personality in combat sports, but Anthony Joshua’s unique likability combined with his pure explosiveness in the ring make him a headline act in the UK — and a new entrant in the Fame 100 list. Sean Nevin


Virat Kohli is the most famous athlete in India. Captain of India’s national cricket team and married to a Bollywood star, he can no longer go anywhere without being mobbed by crowds. We catch up with Kohli as he navigates the claustrophobia of his fame. Wright Thompson


Lionel Messi only seems like the least interesting man in the world. Listen closely and the footballer’s silence speaks louder than most athletes’ shouts. Sam Borden


Before winning the 2015 PGA Championship, Jason Day gained fame for being the gracious bridesmaid in several major tournaments. In September 2015, he made it to World No. 1 for the first of three occasions, staying there for a collective total of 51 weeks and making him one of the biggest names in the sport. Read more

Olympic Sports

Yuzuru Hanyu, the 23-year-old Japanese figure skater who in February became the first man in 66 years to win back-to-back Olympic gold medals, is no ordinary figure skater. He’s a rock star. We go searching for Hanyu’s fans and figure out the meaning behind those who worship him around the world. Elaine Teng


Caroline Wozniacki says she’s never chased fame, only tennis excellence. But her search for fulfillment? That’s been a longer, tougher journey. Allison Glock

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