A post across the preening Portugal forward’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts has almost $730,000 in value; 14th-placed Serena Williams is the highest-ranked female sports pro
On social media, the world’s most famous #7 is #1.
The Portuguese men’s soccer team he captains may be struggling to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, but Cristiano Ronaldo still reigns in the social media stakes. The 32-year-old former Manchester United winger is the athlete with the most valuable reach on social media, according to a new report from D’Marie Analytics, a social media research firm. A post by Ronaldo across Instagram, Facebook and Twitter is worth a cumulative $728,973.35, making him both the most valuable soccer player and athlete overall.
Trailing the Real Madrid forward in second place is Barcelona and Argentina star Lionel Messi, a longtime rival of Ronaldo’s. Messi, whose own national team also might not make it to Russia, clocks in with a reach estimated at $558,000 worth. Brazil’s Neymar Jr., who recently became the most expensive soccer player in the world when he transferred from Barça to Paris Saint-Germain, has to settle for third place in D’Marie’s rankings ($432,000.)
Given the dominance of female celebrities from the Kardashian and Hadid sororities on social media, most of D’Marie’s industry indexes are topped by women. The sports sector is the only field where men typically come ahead: the highest ranked female athlete was tennis legend Serena Williams, who comes in at 14th place among all sports professionals. (11 of the top 20 accounts on D’Marie’s overall index represent women, seven are men and three are for brands.)
A post by Williams—who famously won the Australian Open while pregnant with daughter Alexis Olympia—across the three major social media platforms is worth $111,3999. The 36-year-old, who has won 39 Grand Slams across her entire career, is followed by 21.6 million accounts on Twitter, Insta and Facebook.
That Williams is the highest-indexed woman and that there are no females among the top 10 most valuable athletes isn’t that surprising. The gender wage gap between female and male sportspeople is especially pronounced, largely because there’s significantly more commercial interest in male pros in major sports like basketball, football and soccer. That’s an issue that bedevils female U.S. soccer team athletes, who despite a recent pay raise still under-earn their top male counterparts.
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Indeed, tennis is the one prominent field where there’s relative parity: both the male and female singles champs at this year’s Wimbledon for instance, were awarded £2.2 million ($2.89 million) in prize money.
D’Marie’s rankings are algorithmically constructed after taking into account factors like the overall number of followers and fan engagement. Ronaldo came out ahead partly because of his sheer numbers: he has almost 300 million followers across Facebook, Insta and Twitter, significantly more than Neymar (176.8 million) and Messi (170 million). “His social feeds combine a well-crafted look into his life on and off the pitch,” says Frank Spadafora, chief exec of D’Marie. “His imagery of cars, fashion, athleticism and, quite frankly, abs are aspirational to many men and women across social media.”
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