Olympic Gymnast Simone Biles Tops List as 2021 World’s Most Marketable Athlete

by Josh Lanier
(Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Expect to be seeing a lot more of Simone Biles in the coming months as a new marketing survey found that she has the broadest appeal of any athlete in the world. She’s one of several American athletes researchers named as the top 50 most marketable in the world. In fact, Americans dominated the list.

Researchers created the SportsPro’s 50 Most Marketable Athletes list using social media data. They looked at the athlete’s post frequency, reach, engagement, fan demographic, as well as fan attractiveness. SportsPro examined the social media analytics of more than 7,000 athletes.

“Based not just on reach but also an understanding of crossover appeal and the demographics with buying power, we feel as if this years 50 represent a true snapshot of where athlete marketing is in a world where their voices are being heard louder than they ever have before,” said Paul Guest, SportsPro’s commercial director, in a release.

Biles topped some of the world’s most recognizable athletes.

1 – Simone Biles, Gymnastics
2 – Naomi Osaka, Tennis
3 – Ashlyn Harris, USA Soccer
4 – Canelo Alvarez, Boxing
5 – Paulo Dybala, Argentina Soccer
6 – Cristiano Ronaldo, Soccer
7 – Ali Krieger, USA Soccer
8 – Stefanos Tsitsipas, Tennis
9 – Novak Djokovic, Tennis
10 – Alex Morgan, USA Soccer

Some other notable names on the list also include Serena Williams at 21, Lebron James at 24, Katie LeDecky at 28, Steph Curry at 30, Megan Rapinoe at 35, and Cam Newton at 46. The only baseball player to make the list was the Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger, who ranked 40th.

Tom Kuhr, chief marketing officer at Greenfly, who helped create the list, added that the list proves that fans want direct access to players and will go to great lengths to get it.

You can learn more about the methodology for the survey here.

Simone Biles Olympics Performance Likely Helped

One interesting note from the list is that the two top-ranking athletes — Simone Biles and Naomi Osaka — both have been at the center of public conversations in recent months for the same reason. Both women pulled out of major sporting events to focus on their mental health. This could signify a lot of things. But it likely says that fans empathize and relate more with athletes who are transparent and open about personal struggles. It builds a bond that supersedes sports.

Biles also proved that she could weather the criticism and overcome her personal issues and still win. Biles pulled out of several events at the Tokyo Olympics after she suffered from “the twisties.”

But she returned on the final day of the competition to claim a bronze medal on the balance beam. She was already a national hero for being possibly the greatest gymnast of all time. But when she returned to the competition she was an underdog, and by winning, Biles created a moment that was almost tailor-made for a Hollywood blockbuster. Further endearing her to fans.