Cristiano Ronaldo remains the world's most famous sports star, according to ESPN's annual ranking.

The Real Madrid man again edges out LeBron James and Lionel Messi in the standings, with tennis and golf - including a resurgent Tiger Woods - also well represented in the top 20.

ESPN are running the list for the third year, calculating athletes' rankings based on internet searches, endorsement figures and social media followers.

While footballers are predictably dominant, the lack of NFL stars high in the list is perhaps a surprise, as Tom Brady tumbles 17 places to 38th.

Chinese swimmer Sun Yang is 17th, while Usain Bolt, having retired from athletics and not yet cracked football, is out completely.


Neymar's world-record €222million move to Paris Saint-Germain looks to have boosted his profile, with the Brazil star back up to fourth after dropping to sixth last year.

Gareth Bale is next in 19th, while Mesut Ozil is perhaps a surprise climber from 30th to 22nd.

A move to Hollywood is keeping Zlatan Ibrahimovic (25) in the public eye, with Andres Iniesta - also set to depart Europe - reaching a new high (28).


Brady's drop from 21st is a shock, but so too is Odell Beckham Jr's lowly ranking (53) – though he has risen 11 places.

Beckham finds himself below Drew Brees (47) and just ahead of Cam Newton (54). Aaron Rodgers (49), JJ Watt (72) and Russell Wilson (81) also made the list, but Eli Manning dropped out.

There is again a decline in the fame of NFL stars in the context of this list, with a total of 16 representatives in 2016, eight in 2017 and seven in 2018.


Golf great Woods has enjoyed something of a return to form in 2018 and the public interest in his performance may well have contributed to his improved standing.

Seventh in 2016 became 10th in 2017, but the 42-year-old is now up to sixth.

Roger Federer (5) leads the way for tennis, Virat Kohli (11) for cricket, Serena Williams (12) is the top-ranked female athlete and Floyd Mayweather re-enters at 14th.

Swimmer Yang (17), MMA star Conor McGregor (18), snowboarder Shaun White (32) and badminton player Saina Nehwal (50) top their respective sports.