Usain Bolt is the world’s most marketable athlete

17 May 2011 | Posted in Features - Opinion - Blogs | By Michael Long | Contact the author

Usain Bolt is the world’s most marketable  athlete

World and Olympic 100 and 200 metre champion Usain Bolt has replaced NBA star LeBron James as the most marketable sportsman on the planet. That is the headline result from SportsPro’s second annual ranking of the world’s 50 most marketable athletes, published in the June issue of the magazine.

Athletes have been ranked according to their marketing potential over a three-year period. James drops to second in the list, with Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo ranked third.

The list comprises the 50 athletes deemed by SportsPro to offer value for marketing money if signed today to a long-term global endorsement deal.

As the sports landscape has shifted over the last 12 months, so has the make-up of these unique rankings. Clearly, when evaluating ‘potential’, a degree of subjectivity is involved. Nevertheless, myriad resources were consulted and contacts nigh-on interrogated.

As was the case last year, the list has been designed and compiled to shed light on where the value might lie across the industry, and as a basis for discussion – both a snapshot of the moment and a three-year forecast.

This year’s list features 16 new entries but only five women. There are 19 Americans on the list, six Britons and, in all, representatives from 19 countries. 18 sports are represented, including seven racing drivers and seven basketball players. Six soccer players make the list.

Comprehensive commercial analysis of each and every athlete in the list, detailing their inclusion and explaining their ranking, is available in the June edition of SportsPro.

Agree or disagree with our list? The SportsPro team would love to hear your comments. Contact us on Twitter or email [email protected] to get your thoughts published in the magazine's letters page.


1. Usain Bolt

26. Ryo Ishikawa

2. LeBron James

27. Sidney Crosby

3. Cristiano Ronaldo

28. Wayne Rooney

4. Lionel Messi

29. Tyson Gay

5. Lewis Hamilton

30. Kevin Durant

6. Carmelo Anthony

31. Joe Mauer

7. Sebastian Vettel

32. Andy Murray

8. Michael Phelps

33. Lin Dan

9. Caroline Wozniacki

34. Brian Wilson

10. Mahendra Singh Dhoni

35. Mark Cavendish

11. Yao Ming

36. Travis Pastrana

12. Jessica Ennis

37. Mark Sanchez

13. Kobe Bryant

38. Danica Patrick

14. Shaun White

39. Valentino Rossi

15. Dwyane Wade

40. Anderson Silva

16. Rafael Nadal

41. Dale Earnhardt Jr.

17. Neymar

42. Lindsey Vonn

18. Tom Brady

43. Dan Carter

19. Liu Xiang

44.Tim Tebow

20. Manny Pacquiao

45. Sam Bradford

21. Rory McIlroy

46. Yu Darvish

22. Maria Sharapova

47. Mesut Ozil

23. Alex Ovechkin

48. Deron Williams

24. Fernando Alonso

49. Yuvraj Singh

25. Albert Pujols

50. Samuel Eto’o

To subscribe to the magazine, click here.

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