Who are the most famous athletes on the planet? It's an interesting question that ESPN tried to tackle with its World Fame 100 rankings. There are two D.C. athletes on the list, and two more if you include people born in the DMV area.
First, a word about how players were ranked. The formula takes into account each person's salary and endorsement money from 2015-16, number of social media followers and Google search popularity.
Based on this criteria, Capitals winger Alexander Ovechkin is the most famous athlete playing for a local team. He checks in at No. 65 overall and is credited with $10 million in salary, $4 million in endorsements, 129K Facebook likes and 2 million Twitter followers.
ESPN calls him "the most gifted hockey player in two countries." His peak moment is cited as his four-goal performance in a 5-4 OT victory over the Canadiens in the 2008 playoffs. That's the game where he broke his nose on a hard check and had his lip sewn up after taking a puck to the face.
Ovechkin is the most famous hockey player on this list ahead of Sidney Crosby (No. 82) and Evgeni Malkin (No. 92). But he's only the second most famous Russian, coming in far behind tennis star Maria Sharapova (No. 18).
Next comes Nationals slugger Bryce Harper at No. 71 overall. He's credited with $3 million in salary, $4 million in endorsements, 309K Facebook likes and 606K Twitter followers.
Harper's bio notes that he "is poised to fetch a contract potentially worth $500 million by the time he becomes a free agent." His peak moment? All of 2015, when he became the unanimous NL MVP.
Harper, like Ovi, is ranked the most famous athlete in his sport. And he slides in two spots ahead of Angles star Mike Trout.
Two others on this list hail from Maryland -- No. 6 Kevin Durant and No. 46 Michael Phelps.
A few notes about the top 100 that I found interesting:
- There are 20 basketball players listed, more than any other sport. Soccer has 17.
- Soccer players own Facebook by wide margins. The five most-liked athletes on Facebook are all soccer stars. And four of them play for the top two Spanish clubs -- Ronaldo (110.7 million likes) and James Rodriguez (29.7 million) of Real Madrid and Lionel Messi (84.3 million) and Neymar (56.4 million) of FC Barcelona.
- Americans dominate world sports in several ways. Namely, 56 of the top 100 athletes are from the United States. The next closest country is England, with four names on the list. In addition, America's four major leagues claim all of the world's most famous basketball, baseball, hockey and, of course, American football players.
- Soccer is the major exception to American influence, as expected. U.S. Women's National Team star Alex Morgan (No. 55) is the only soccer player on the list who rose to fame here. Frank Lampard (No. 62) has played in MLS, but made his career with Chelsea FC of the English Premier League.
- Morgan is one of just eight women to crack the top 100. The highest ranked is Sharapova (No. 18).