Who is the biggest star in America’s two biggest sports leagues? With the NBA and NFL seasons in full swing, we ran the numbers, analyzing Google search data on athletes in both leagues to discover the most Googled stars in the US and globally. Our study also investigated the players’ Instagram presence to see how many followers each one had, as well as their earning potential per sponsored post. 

We found some fascinating results, like despite football undoubtedly being the biggest sport in America, the NBA athletes on the whole tended to have more Instagram followers, speaking to the league’s growth worldwide and the marketability of its athletes. A prime example of this is the fact that Lebron James has more Instagram followers than the rest of the top ten combined

Tom Brady ranks as the most searched athlete from the NFL or NBA, averaging 2.8 million searches per month in the United States over the last 12 month period. The Tampa Bay quarterback was the most searched in the United States with Google Trends showing recent spikes in interest when he reversed his retirement decision and even more recently surrounding his divorce with Gisele Bündchen. The NFL superstar is also the second most searched active NFL or NBA athlete globally with an average of 4.2 million monthly searches, placing him just behind Lebron James. He has a respectable 12.8 million followers on Instagram, which means his earning potential per sponsored post is up to $42,616.

Tom Brady

Second on the list in searches is Green Bay Packers superstar Aaron Rodgers with an average of 2.2 million US searches per month. As well as having 2.1 million followers on Instagram, the NFL legend has an estimated earning potential up to $7,020 per post on the platform. 

Aaron Rodgers

LeBron James places as the study’s third most searched athlete in America, however he is globally the most searched with 4.9 million average monthly global searches in the last 12 months. The NBA great has the highest following on Instagram of all athletes studies, totaling 135 million, which can lead him to potential earnings of up to $448,738 per sponsored Instagram post. While topping so many criteria on the list, he does rank third behind Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers in US Google searches with an average of 2.1 million searches each month. 

LeBron James

Fourth on the list is NBA superstar Steph Curry. The Golden State Warrior has a total of 1.7 million average monthly searches in America, and is the second most searched basketball player in America and globally. He is the second most followed athlete on the list with 47 million Instagram followers which translates into an estimated earning potential of up to $155,311 per post. Recent search related queries regarding Steph Curry express an interest in his net worth and his relationship with longtime partner Ayesha Curry. 

Stephen Curry

Rounding up the top five is the Cleveland Browns’ Deshaun Watson with an average monthly search of 1.4 million in the United States. He also has 1.4 million Instagram followers with an estimated earning potential of up to $4,962 per post. 

In sixth position is Cincinnati Bengals star Joe Burrows with an average monthly search of 1.3 million in the United States. He also has 3 Million Instagram followers, doubling Deshaun Williams. His estimated earning potential per Instagram post is up to $10,298.75. Recent search related queries showed Joe Burrows interest also stemmed from his public appearances wearing designer glasses, including post game interviews. 

In seventh position is Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving averaging 1.2 million searches in the last 12 months in the United States. Globally he has 1.9 million. Of all the participants on the list Kyrie Irving has the third highest number of followers on Instagram with 17 million, placing him with a potential earning interest up to $57,920 per post. 

Ranking at number eight on the list is fellow Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant. He has an average monthly search of 1.1 million in the United States in the last 12 months. The NBA star also has 2 million searches globally, the fifth highest of any American athlete. He has 13 million followers on Instagram with an earning potential of up to $43,403 per post. 

Next on the list in ninth most searched in the United States is another Brooklyn Nets star Ben Simmons with a monthly average search of 1 million in the last 12 months. Globally he has 1.6 million average monthly searches in the last 12 months. He has 7 million followers on Instagram which translates to an earning potential of up to $22,191 per post. Finishing in the top ten is NFL quarterback Baker Mayfield who is level with Ben Simmons in U.S searches with 1 million monthly average searches in the last 12 months. Globally, he falls just behind Ben Simmons with 1.1 million average monthly searches. Mayfield has 2 million followers on Instagram and an estimated earning potential of $5,331 per sponsored post.

RankU.S Search VolumeGlobal Search volumeInstagram FollowersEstimated earnings via Instagram Money Calculator
Tom Brady2,870,0004,230,00012.8 million$42,616
Aaron Rodgers2,210,0002,690,0002.1 million$7,020
Lebron James2,180,0004,900,000135 million$448,738
Stephen Curry1,796,0002,650,00047 million$155,311
Deshaun Watson1,420,0001,580,0001.4 million$4,962
Joe Burrow1,330,0001,570,0003.1 million$10,298
Kyrie Irving1,230,0001,980,00017 million$57,920
Kevin Durant1,190,0002,090,00013 million$43,403
Ben Simmons1,060,0001,680,0007 Million$22,191
Baker Mayfield1,060,0001,150,0002 Million$5,331
The Most Influential NBA and NFL Stars 
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