Katie Ledecky, Adam Peaty Among World’s Most Marketable Athletes

Two of swimming’s biggest stars rank among the world’s most marketable athletes in 2022, according to SportsPro‘s annual list which was released earlier this week.

American superstar Katie Ledecky cracked the top 50 for the second straight year, coming in at #21, while British fan favorite Adam Peaty comes in at #90.

Now in its 13th year, SportsPro‘s Most Marketable rankings consider the evolving nature of athlete marketability in the digital age, using advanced metrics to track brand strength, audience and reach, and economics.

Ledecky, who moves up seven spots after ranking 28th last year, scored 11.94/20 on brand strength, 18.64/50 on audience and reach, and 6.38/30 on economics for a cumulative total of 36.95 (scored out of a possible 100).

The most comparable athlete to Ledecky’s marketability is another Olympic star, American snowboarder Chloe Kim, who ranks 22nd and has very similar scores across all three metrics (12.02/17.46/6.88=36.37).

The highest-ranked athlete in a sport that is primarily centered around the Olympics was U.S. gymnast Simone Biles, who ranks 11th with a cumulative total of 46.85 on the marketability scale. Biles earned the #1 ranking last year coming off the Tokyo Olympic Games.

Peaty ranks 90th, scoring 7.31/11.49/0.72 across the three metrics for a final total of 19.52.

Portuguese soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo earned the #1 spot with a marketability score of 91.21, while tennis legend Serena Williams (67.99) and Formula 1 great Lewis Hamilton (64.58) rank second and third.

Ronaldo earned maximum scores for both audience and reach (50) and economics (30), while NBA superstar Lebron James had the highest brand strength score at 18.71 (out of 20).

Top 50

  1. Cristiano Ronaldo, Soccer
  2. Serena Williams, Tennis
  3. Lewis Hamilton, Motorsport
  4. LeBron James, Basketball
  5. Lionel Messi, Soccer
  6. Naomi Osaka, Tennis
  7. Virat Kohli, Cricket
  8. Alex Morgan, Soccer
  9. Sam Kerr, Soccer
  10. Tom Brady, Football
  11. Simone Biles, Gymnastic
  12. Emma Raducanu, Tennis
  13. Alexia Putellas, Soccer
  14. Stephen Curry, Basketball
  15. Simona Halep, Tennis
  16. Rafael Nadal, Tennis
  17. Neymar, Soccer
  18. Mohamed Salah, Soccer
  19. Kylian Mbappé, Soccer
  20. Rohit Sharma, Cricket
  21. Katie Ledecky, Swimming
  22. Chloe Kim, Snowboard
  23. Roger Federer, Tennis
  24. Erling Haaland, Soccer
  25. Charles Leclerc, Motorsport
  26. Candace Parker, Basketball
  27. Megan Rapinoe, Soccer
  28. Oksana Masters, Paralympic Athlete
  29. Eileen Gu, Ski
  30. Garbiñe Muguruza, Tennis
  31. Karim Benzema, Soccer
  32. Bianca Andreescu, Tennis
  33. Max Verstappen, Motorsport
  34. Bethany Hamilton, Surfing
  35. George Russell, Motorsport
  36. Sergio Pérez, Motorsport
  37. Robert Lewandowski, Soccer
  38. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Basketball
  39. Sky Brown, Skateboard
  40. Becky Sauerbrunn, Soccer
  41. Sydney McLaughlin, Sprint
  42. Mesut Özil, Soccer
  43. Kevin De Bruyne, Soccer
  44. Olivia Dunne, Gymnastic
  45. Luka Dončić, Basketball
  46. Novak Djokovic, Tennis
  47. Katie Taylor, Boxing
  48. Rory McIlroy, Golf
  49. Harry Kane, Soccer
  50. Marcus Rashford, Soccer

Ledecky, 25, has been the most dominant swimmer in the sport for the past decade, winning seven Olympic gold medals and 19 World Championship titles.

Last summer in Tokyo, she won her third straight Olympic gold medal in the women’s 800 freestyle, won the inaugural title in the 1500 free, and claimed silver behind Australian Ariarne Titmus in the 400 free.

With Titmus absent at the World Championships this past summer, Ledecky swept the women’s 400, 800 and 1500 free, and added a fourth gold medal on the U.S. women’s 4×200 free relay.

Peaty, the world’s most dominant male breaststroker, won a repeat gold medal in the men’s 100 breast at the Tokyo Olympic Games, but was forced out of the 2022 World Championships due to injury. At this past summer’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England, Peaty failed to reach the podium in the 100 breast but bounced back and won gold in the men’s 50 breast in front of his home crowd.

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3 months ago

Patrick Mahomes at #55? Rory MclIroy at #48?, Novak DJokovic at #46? Aaron Judge at #74? TJ Watt at #95? List methodology does seem suspect. All the forgoing are in TV commercials all the time, while I’ve never seen Lewis Hamilton or Virhat Kohli in a commercial (or even heard of them for that matter).

Last edited 3 months ago by Wahooswimfan
Reply to  Wahooswimfan
3 months ago

‘Virhat Kohli’ has 218 million Instagram followers but if your local American Wahooswimfan hasn’t heard of him then he doesn’t exist

Reply to  Coco
3 months ago

He exist and is obviously very popular in countries where cricket is played, but he is a virtual unknown in the US, Canada, South Korea, China, Japan, Germany and many other non-English speaking European nations with substantial GDPs and consumers with high income. If I’m an advertiser seeking an endorser, the larger and wealthier the potential consumer base, the more likely I am to engage a product spokesperson. Soccer, tennis and basketball are universal worldwide, so its no surprise Rinaldo, Lebron and Serena rank top 3. But otherwise, I think the listing emphasizes numerical (number of people wise) popularity too much and does not emphasize potential revenue impact in the same way a commercial firm would. No slight intended for… Read more »

Reply to  Wahooswimfan
3 months ago

I think Kohli is one of the few ones that do make sense on this list. It doesn’t matter whether or not we know him in the west… India has a population of almost 1.4 billion people. If he only appears in Indian commercials, his reach is still astronomical.

Reply to  FST
3 months ago

Yes, there’s scale in places like India.

But the value of reaching 1 Indian customer is much, much lower than the value of reaching 1 American customer. Depending on who you ask, the ad rate for 1 American customer is about 5x that of 1 Indian customer, which makes “the value of someone who is known to every American and nobody else” slightly higher than “the value of someone who is known to every Indian and nobody else.”

The same would be true if you replaced US with “EU” or “EU + UK.”

It feels like Americans are overvalued on the list, because US has, generally, the highest ad rates in the world. US customers are just worth more, so… Read more »

Former swimmer
3 months ago

Ledecky isn’t charismatic and outside of Olympic commercials, what media has she done. She’s no Missy Franklin.

Reply to  Former swimmer
3 months ago

Sponsors certainly seem to find Ledecky quite marketable and authentic. As best I can tell from intenet, her marketability rating is quite justified as she has, or has had, significant national and international sponsorships with TYR, Ralph Lauren, Panasonic, Chocolate Milk, Oura, LaCroix, Visa, Hersheys, Mattel, Adidas, and Bic. I think the thing she did with the swimming a lap with a cup of choc milk on her head got like a trillion views on TikTok.

Deep Trouble
Reply to  Toto
3 months ago

Ooh, chocolate 🥛

3 months ago

They’ve clearly made the list up and then added random female athletes in random places so not to offend

3 months ago

That list makes zero sense. Even a wildly charismatic, successful, supermodel-level attractive and overall likable swimmer would come behind pretty much any first tier soccer player in the world in terms of marketability.
Ledecky is successful and nice, but awkward in interviews and nobody looks attractive in front of the camera when you’ve got wet hair and a red face.
It’s almost silly how made up female track athletes are when they race and yet… Sha’Carri Richardson, who hasn’t even gone to Olympics once in her life, is more marketable than Ledecky.
Peaty, as a man, already has a leg up. But it’s almost laughable to claim he’s more marketable than a soccer star. Footbal rules in the UK.

Go Kamminga Go
Reply to  FST
3 months ago

Ledecky is more marketable than Federer wtf lol.

How many hundreds of millions dollars of products she has sold?

Do people spend thousands of dollars to watch her swim they way people spend thousands of dollars to watch Federer play tennis?

This list is a joke.

Reply to  Go Kamminga Go
3 months ago

The makers of these lists have access to proprietary data calculations to which the public generally does not have access–calculations which include information such as Q scores, image polling, popularity/authenticity/stability ratings, consistency/dominance/longevity of athletic performance, demographics, market size, and product sold/profitability vs cost of sponsorship. For hypothetical example, would you rather sell $5 mil of product by paying $3 mil to Federer, or sell the same $5 mil of product by paying $1 mil to Ledecky? Would you rather sell a small amount of product in Norway/Europe by endorsing Haaland, or sell a much larger amount of product by endorsing Ledecky at the same cost in the United States? These types of calculations play into “marketability” ratings and rankings.

Reply to  Jac
3 months ago

Would you rather sell a small amount of product in Norway/Europe by endorsing Haaland, or sell a much larger amount of product by endorsing Ledecky at the same cost in the United States?

I doubt you’d get Haaland as cheaply as Ledecky. But Europe also has more than twice the population that the US does and the Premiere League is quite popular outside of Europe as well (Asia, South America, Africa). So the potential reach and purchasing power of the markets one reaches with Haaland (v Ledecky) is far greater. There is just no scenario in which one of the best soccer players in the world, even if he’d only play for a single season at a premier league club,… Read more »

Virgil Hilts
3 months ago

I wouldn’t buy a single product from a company who used Megan Rapinoe in their ads and/or promotions.

I’m not alone.

let’s go team let’s go
3 months ago

this is a bad list. Are they really saying that Alex Morgan is more marketable than Mbappe, Salah, Neymar and Haaland?

Go Kamminga Go
Reply to  let’s go team let’s go
3 months ago

Extremely bad

Federer at #23? LMFAO.

He is in world’s top 10 highest earner sportsman every year for almost two decades including last year.

And he’s behind Ledecky? GTFO

Arthur Chubb
3 months ago

Where is Michael Andrew on this list?

Sun Yangs Hammer
3 months ago

Leclerc getting robbed of the WDC by Ferrari strategy

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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