Celebrities come in all shapes and sizes, but athletes make for excellent public figures. If you try to picture a celebrity in your head, there’s a solid chance that a football player, basketball star, or baseball big shot will spring to mind. Let’s face it – there’s hardly a shortage.
However, some reach different levels of notoriety than their peers and teammates. The fact that not everyone in a single organization is sought after is a perfect example. Certain people have attributes that make them an ideal fit as far as the public is concerned. The following are the most common.
Skills That Pay the Bills
It’s hard to invest in a person who doesn’t deserve the adulation. That’s why people like Logan Paul and Jake Paul are divisive figures, especially in the boxing world. They are somewhat talented, yet live off their ability to entertain and market themselves.
The biggest celebrity athletes, on the other hand, are bonafide superstars. Take Patrick Mahomes, for instance. Kansas City’s franchise quarterback is marketable for several different reasons, but the main one is that he performs consistently on the field. He heads the NFL betting market for the league MVP again this year at 9/2, miles ahead of Tom Brady at 10/1. His throwing accuracy, aligned with his talent for throwing from different angles and making passes on the run, makes him box office.
The NFL is packed with talent, from Lamar Jackson to Kyler Murray and Josh Allen, yet Mahomes is undoubtedly the division’s number one asset. To the outside world, that makes him the athlete with the biggest celebrity potential, too.
Role Model Status
You may disagree with the idea that sports players are role models. There’s enough evidence to suggest this is the case, such as a report after the 2012 London Olympics that stated sports participation after the games fell. Of course, there are also numerous examples of men and women who stood for causes, and it cemented their legacies.
Muhammed Ali is not only one of the greatest boxers of all time, but he’s easily the most famous. Yes, floating like a butterfly and stinging like a bee was the foundation of his success; however, he became an icon when he stood up for his principles. Refusing national service and forfeiting his championship belt is forever synonymous with the name Muhammed Ali.
The trend continues to this day. For example, Sports Illustrated released a cover in 2020 featuring the likes of LeBron James and Naomi Osaka partly due to their activism as public figures.
The Gift of the Gab
It can be charming or rub you the wrong way, but regardless, it makes you take notice. Being able to control a crowd is a major skill behind the growth of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. One fighter more than most took it to the extreme and benefitted immensely – Conor McGregor.
The Irishman, known as “The Notorious,” is a household name in a sport that isn’t renowned globally. According to some sources, his net worth is around $120 to $130 million, easily making him one of the wealthiest athletes in the world.
People may not like it, but his skill for positioning himself as the bad guy only makes fans tune in, whether to see him knock his opponent out or get knocked out personally. Essentially, trash-talking is his brand.
Different factors need to come together. Mostly, though, it’s a mixture of quality, using words to promote events, and putting a name to a good cause.
Main Photo by Francesco Paggiaro.