Philadelphia 76ers forward Ben Simmons has the largest Instagram following in a star-studded list of over 2,300 athletes from 45 sports competing domestically and abroad in a new 50Mil social media ranking released today.
Simmons scores while cricketers dominate the Top 10
Five Australian male sport stars have an Instagram following of 1 million or more with cricket the dominant sport in this elite field with David Warner having amassed 1.3 million fans and Steve Smith 1 million.
Another in the top five in what has been a very strong showing for surfers is Mick Fanning as is F1 driver Daniel Ricciardo who crossed the 1 million threshold just a few days before the 50Mil ranking was published.
Shunt includes foreign marquee players competing in domestic Australian competitions which brings Trinidadian and Tobagonian cricketer and singer Dwayne Bravo into the mix as a member of the Melbourne Renegades BBL squad.
Plenty of depth with 50 male athletes on a 100k or more
There’s a long list of male athletes that have accumulated Instagram followings of 100,000 or more with Julian Wilson having 728,000 fans on the platform as one of six from surfing to make the 100k club.
Other sports to have substantial representation are Cricket (14), the AFL and NRL on nine apiece then basketball with five representatives and rugby three. Football has two, Tim Cahill and Socceroos player Brad Smith as does tennis (Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis).
There are single entries from baseball, cycling (Richie Porte), golf (Jason Day), motorcycling (MotoGP rider Jack Miller) and swimming (Cameron McEvoy).
Women surfers a major drawcard on Instagram
Australian surfers snared five of the top 10 spots in the 50Mil ranking of 600 of the country’s best female athletes from 39 sports. At number one and just short of a half a million followers is Sally Fitzgibbons with six-time world surfing champion Stephanie Gilmore hot on her heels.
At number three is hurdler Michelle Jenneke who has attracted a lot of attention for her warm-up preparations. It’s then back to surfing and Laura Enever who is another athlete with more than 400,000 followers.
Sitting comfortably at number five is an athlete who competed in the 2016 Rio Olympics in weightlifting before crossing-over to… cross-fit. Successful on her recent third attempt at the world titles she has earned the moniker of the ‘fittest women on the earth’ gathering plenty of Instagram fans along the way.
Surfers once again figure at number six (Nikki Van Dijk) and eight (last year’s world champion – Tyler Wright). Cricket makes its first appearance at number seven with Indian marquee player Smitri Mandhana competing with the Brisbane Heat WBBL squad.
At number 10 is the talented Ellyse Perry who has made a name for herself on both the cricket and football fields.
Another notable entry in the Shunt 50Mil top 10 Instagram accounts is the sole athletics entry – 3,000 metre steeplechase specialist Genevieve LaCaze.
Cricket outclasses once again
Cricket consistently comes out at or near the top in almost every social media footprint ranking the Shunt 50Mil project undertakes. As is the case when examining what sports high-profile players have the largest total follower count. Even more impressive is the fact that cricket has achieved leadership in this space with substantially less athletes than other powerhouse Australian sports such as the AFL and NRL.
In tallying up the total footprint of players, the AFL grabs the runner-up spot over the NRL due to about a million extra followers– however this is achieved with double the number of accounts after adding AFL women to the tally.
Looking to individual athletes the Sydney Swans Lance ‘Buddy’ Franklin is the clear winner on Instagram thanks to 309,000 followers at the time the survey was undertaken. For the NRL its ex NFL, Rugby Sevens journeyman Jarryd Hayne who has amassed close to 500,000 fans.
Punching well above its weight and testament to the global nature of the sport is surfing at number four. It has achieved this impressive feat with a combined footprint of 5.4m, drawn from just 22 athletes.
Basketball’s numbers are pumped up thanks to some high-profile Aussie exports to the NBA. Top of the heap is Ben Simmons, followed by Milwaukee Bucks’ Matthew Dellavedova (464,000), San Antonio Spurs’ Patty Mills (292,000), Utah Jazz guard Dante Exum (137,000) and Sudanese-Australian Thon Maker (133,000).
Football’s main playmaker on Instagram is Melbourne City’s Tim Cahill (318,000). While of the five Australian Super Rugby teams (for the time being) there’s very little between Quade Cooper and code-hopper Israel Folau.
Next up is athletics with a footprint of 1.1m Instagram followers from 49 athletes then tennis whose 866,000 count is buoyed by the Nick Kyrgios factor and his half a million fans.