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Expand chart
Data: Instagram data as of April 2, 2020; Note: Presented on a log scale. James Harden deleted his account in January 2020; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Without live sports, one of the only ways for athletes to reach cooped-up fans during the coronavirus pandemic is directly through social media.

Driving the news: Bored athletes have taken to Instagram and other platforms to share casual quarantine moments, host livestreams with other athletes, post daily workouts and even interview health experts.

"Many of the athletes we work with are doubling down on their own productions — including setting up professional livestreams and building in-home podcast studios."
— Nate Houghteling, co-founder of content agency Portal A

Between the lines: All athletes are "celebrities," but some are better-equipped than others to keep fans engaged while the sports world sits idle — and a select few have the resources necessary to essentially operate like their own media companies right now.

By the numbers: We compared the Instagram follower counts of the most recent All-Star starters in the four major U.S. sports. The difference between the NBA and the three other leagues is almost as shocking as the difference between LeBron James and everyone else.

NBA:

  • LeBron has 62.5 million followers, which is about 1.5x as many followers as the starters in the NFL Pro Bowl (26.5 million), the MLB All-Star Game (8.4 million) and the NHL All-Star Game (6.8 million), combined (41.8 million).
  • Kawhi Leonard is the only starter without an account (naturally), and Pascal Siakam (721,000) is the only other player with fewer than 1.5 million followers.

NFL:

  • Russell Wilson has the most followers (4.4 million).
  • Six other starters have over 1 million followers: Lamar Jackson (2.4 million), Richard Sherman (2.3 million), Von Miller (1.9 million), DeAndre Hopkins (1.2 million), Julio Jones (1.2 million) and Travis Kelce (1.1 million).

MLB:

  • Mike Trout has the most followers (1.8 million), and Javy Baez is the only other starter with more than 1 million (1.3 million).
  • Three starters don't have accounts: Michael Brantley, Freddie Freeman and Nolan Arenado.

NHL:

  • Alexander Ovechkin, who was named an All-Star but sat out to rest his body, is the only one with over 1 million followers (1.6 million).
  • 11 starters don't have accounts, and 13 have under 100,000 followers (including one with just over 3,000! That hardly qualifies as a micro-influencer!).

Go deeper

Ina Fried, author of Login
Updated 1 hour ago - Sports

Transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard: "It gets better"

New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard became the first openly transgender woman to compete in the Olympics. Ina Fried/Axios

Laurel Hubbard, speaking to reporters after becoming the first openly transgender woman to compete in the Olympics, on Tuesday expressed gratitude for the opportunity to compete as an athlete and convince transgender people to work through adversity.

What she's saying: "All I have ever really wanted as an athlete is just to be regarded as an athlete," Hubbard, said in response to a question from Axios. "I suppose the thing I have been so grateful here in Tokyo is just being given those opportunities to just go through life as any other athlete."

Amazon may have violated law in Alabama warehouse vote, NLRB says

The Amazon BHM1 fulfillment center in Bessemer, Alabama. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

Amazon warehouse workers in Bessemer, Alabama, should hold a new election to determine whether to unionize with the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, the National Labor Relations Board said in a preliminary finding Monday.

Details: The e-commerce giant may have illegally interfered in a mail-in election tallied in April on whether workers at the plant should unionize, per a statement from an NLRB hearing officer assigned to the case. Amazon said it would appeal any ruling stipulating that a second vote should take place.

Evictions lead to rare clash between the White House and Dems

Demonstrators listen as Rep. Cori Bush, a Democrat from Missouri, right, speaks at the U.S. Capitol during a protest against the expiration of the eviction moratorium. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The White House and Democratic leaders have been dueling — publicly and privately — over who should take responsibility for extending an eviction moratorium that could protect millions of people on the verge of homelessness.

Why it matters: It's a rare moment of dysfunction between the usually-in-lockstep Biden team and congressional leadership.