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Usain Bolt, Missy Franklin lead Olympians on most marketable athletes list

May 20, 2014, 10:31 AM EDT

Usain Bolt Getty Images

Usain Bolt is the most marketable athlete in a sport whose biggest event is the Olympics for the fourth straight year, according to SportPro’s World’s 50 Most Marketable Athletes list.

Bolt came in at No. 6 on the list, which, in the past, has ranked athletes according to their marketing potential over a three-year period starting with the upcoming summer. It has looked at six categories — value for money, age, home market, charisma, willingness to be marketed and crossover appeal.

Bolt, the six-time Olympic champion and world-record holder in the 100m and 200m, is gearing up for his fourth Olympic bid in 2016.

Bolt is the only athlete in the world to make the top six of SportsPro’s list each of the last four years. He was No. 1 in 2011.

Lionel Messi had also been in the top six in 2011, 2012 and 2013, but the Argentine soccer superstar fell to No. 11 for 2014.

Here’s what SportsPro had to say about Bolt this year:

“Bolt is one of a handful of globally renowned, universally respected pitchmen who can break through. There simply isn’t anyone anything like him, within his sport or without.”

Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton is No. 1 on this year list, which includes 22 Olympians and two Paralympians:

4. Cristiano Ronaldo, Soccer
5. Grigor Dimitrov, Tennis
6. Usain Bolt, Track and Field
7. Neymar, Soccer (Neymar was No. 1 in 2012 and 2013)
8. Missy Franklin, Swimming
11. Lionel Messi, Soccer
14. Alex Morgan, Soccer
15. Novak Djokovic, Tennis
18. Ronda Rousey, Judo
20. Alan Oliveira, Paralympic Track and Field
21. Andy Murray, Tennis
23. Mikaela Shiffrin, Alpine Skiing
28. Katarina Johnson-Thompson, Track and Field
29. Anthony Davis, Basketball
31. Victoria Azarenka, Tennis
34. Mami Sato, Paralympic Track and Field
37. James Harden, Basketball
38. Fabiana Claudino, Volleyball
39. Taylor Phinney, Cycling
42. Ben Ainslie, Sailing
45. Masahiro Tanaka, Baseball
46. Carmelo Anthony, Basketball
48. Caroline Wozniacki, Tennis
49. Martin Fourcade, Biathlon

The rankings have been done annually since 2010, though it’s hard to find the full list from five years ago.

No. 8 Franklin, who became the first woman to win six gold medals at a single World Swimming Championships last year, made her debut on the list in 2013 at No. 20.

Shaun White and Lindsey Vonn made the list each of the last three years but did not crack the top 50 for 2014. David Rudisha and Yuna Kim were also on the 2013 list and did not carry over.

Michael Phelps was No. 8 in 2011 and No. 28 in 2012 but has not made the list each of the last two years.

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  1. penvik - May 20, 2014 at 11:12 AM

    I live in Canada so that may be a big reason for my comment but, I have NO idea who the top 2 guys on this list are. And all I do is watch sports. That makes this list inexcusable and the people behind it should lose their jobs. First of all, formula 1 drivers again?? This is not a sport, the car is the athlete. Most marketable? Is it because there’s so much room to put advertisements on his car, that has to be it, otherwise this makes no sense. Secondly, Messi and Ronaldo shouldn’t be behind anybody is the soccer world. That’s laughable. And last, a partially not well known tennis player in the top 5??? Really? Id even question RG3 and am assuming this is either written in D.C. Or by fans of the REDSKINS (capitalized because the name is fine and can’t believe the ridiculousness of people trying to change it, good riddance.
    Messi should be top 3, same as Brady or manning, Crosby, Toews, you know Jeter?? Guys like that should be most marketable. Usain Bolt could be top 2-3 easily as well. Very well known.

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