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The LeBron effect: NBA stars lap others on social media

When we set out to examine the social media followings of every All-Star starter across the four major sports, we expected the personality-driven NBA to come out ahead — but not by this much.

Data: Twitter, Instagram; Note: Follower counts as of Feb. 6; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Takeaways:

  • NBA: LeBron James has more followers on Instagram and Twitter (~89 million) than every NFL, MLB and NHL All-Star starter combined. He also has more than twice as many as the next closest NBA All-Star starter (Steph Curry: ~37 million).
  • NFL: Trench warrior J.J. Watt has the strongest social presence (~8.8 million followers) among Pro-Bowlers. Even if Aaron Rodgers hadn't pulled out of the game, his 5.4 million followers still would have trailed Watt.
  • MLB/NHL: Mike Trout and Alex Ovechkin have almost the same exact number of followers across both platforms. Same with Matt Kemp and Connor McDavid.
  • NHL: 15 All-Star starters have either (a) no Twitter account, (b) no Instagram account or (c) neither.