Social media has brought celebrities closer to their fans than ever, but few actors or influencers can come close to the notoriety and followings of top athletes. Whether backing a brand they use or letting fans into their personal lives, staying active on Instagram and Twitter is one way to continue building a following.
The biggest names in social media are football (or soccer) superstars from across the pond, including Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Neymar. Meanwhile, cricket superstars like MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli dominate Twitter (soon to include ‘super likes’) and Instagram.
In North America, popular athletes are spread across the four major leagues—and beyond. Though the most active and popular accounts may have millions upon millions of followers, that doesn’t always mean the content is insightful or personal.
Let’s take a look at some of the most inspiring athlete accounts live today.
With just over 40,000 followers, surfer Sophie Hellyer is a bit behind the ball when compared to other athletes. However, her passion behind all things water-related (including cold swimming and ocean conservation) comes through in each post.
In addition to highlighting her antics in the water, she also emphasizes that her followers can get active because they love how it feels. She may not have a shelf of accolades to show off (like others on this list), but her recent sponsorship from Red Bull indicates a bright future for the young athlete.
With 72 million followers on Instagram, LeBron is the undisputed king of NBA social media accounts (along with being king of the league). Since joining the big leagues in 2003, LeBron has nudged past other active legends like Kevin Durant and James Harden to remain the top dog when it comes to leading a franchise.
When it’s time for analysts to crunch stats and create NBA odds for the regular season and playoffs, LeBron is the undisputed focus in the league’s Western Conference—but he’s also attracted a massive following off the court. Within months of the 2020 NBA restart, LeBron added some four million followers after offering sneak peeks into his personal life via Instagram.
Some fan-favorite posts include LeBron’s antics with his son, Bronny, as well as a dizzying peek into his sneaker closet.
Compared to other big names in the PGA, from Tiger Woods to Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler may seem like small fish just under two million followers. However, the professional golfer (with a career-high ranking of fourth in the world) has one of the most seamlessly curated Instagram accounts in golf—and the sporting world in general.
His partnership with Puma has led to some stunning tropical designs, while other video snippets showcase the golfer’s hilarious antics with friends. Whether looking for advice on which golf equipment to buy or just looking to laugh with Fowler, his Instagram account has it all.
Mohamed ‘Mo’ Salah
As is clear by the list, a mind-blowing follower account isn’t always proportionate to how loved the athlete is. With 41 million followers, the Liverpool football star isn’t short on adoration. However, as one of the most dearly beloved players in English football, his Instagram account offers a warm and genuine peek into Salah’s life.
Whether sharing family photos or goofy selfies with his cat, Salah brings his fans into his home life more than most other athletes. As an Egyptian transplant to Britain, many posts also highlight Salah’s cultural background.
With one million followers, Mookie Betts Instagram account highlights the best of both of the outfielder’s worlds: his home life in Tennessee and his professional life playing for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Aside from his antics on the field, including a World Series-winning home run last year, Betts offers well-rounded posts to fans.
Because he works on the west coast and living in Appalachia, Betts’ followers are treated to family outing photos, shots of his favorite restaurants, and exciting snippets of upcoming projects with brands like Nike and Training Corner.