Leo Messi is the seventh most popular athlete in the United States
Barcelona forward, Leo Messi has been named the seventh most popular athlete in the United States, the first footballer to crack the Top 10 in a year-long study conducted by American sports network, ESPN.
The survey, conducted by ESPN, consisted of 1,500 phone calls per month, starting in October of 2012 and ended in September 2013.
The recipients were asked: “Who is your favourite athlete?” and the majority replied; Michael Jordan, Peyton Manning and LeBron James.
However, Messi is the first footballer to break the network’s top-10 most popular athletes ranking, which is significant due to football not being the dominant sport in the country and just beginning to gain popularity over recent years.
Meanwhile, footballers like Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo (21) and former LA Galaxy star, David Backham (47) were also surprise inclusions.
However, Messi ranked even higher with 12 to 14 year old’s, demonstrating the growth of football (soccer) in America, which is attributed to larger coverage from television networks such as BeIN Sport USA, who, in Messi’s case, have exclusive broadcasting rights to La Liga.