Sports stars on Instagram: who has the most followers - Cristiano Ronaldo, David Beckham, Lionel Messi?

Cristiano Ronaldo has the highest following of any athlete on Instagram. (Adobe/Stock/Getty/ graphic by Mark Hall)Cristiano Ronaldo has the highest following of any athlete on Instagram. (Adobe/Stock/Getty/ graphic by Mark Hall)
Cristiano Ronaldo has the highest following of any athlete on Instagram. (Adobe/Stock/Getty/ graphic by Mark Hall) | Getty/ Mark Hall National World/ Stock/ Adobe
Cristiano Ronaldo is the most followed person on Instagram

Social media platforms such as Instagram offer an insight into the lavish lives of famous faces from around the world and there are few that fascinate the public more than professional sport stars.

This is shown by former Manchester United and Real Madrid footballer Cristiano Ronaldo.

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The five-time Ballon d’Or winner is more than just a star on the football pitch and he became the first person in history to surpass the 400 million mark for followers, having previously been the first person to reach 200 million on Instagram.

The best sports stars in the world earn an astronomical wage from their teams and through sponsorship deals and Instagram offers a further avenue into earning potential.

But who is the most followed sports star in the world? Here is everything you need to know.

Which sports stars have the most Instagram followers?

  1. Cristiano Ronaldo: Football - 560 million 
Cristiano Ronaldo is the most followed person on Instagram. (Getty Images)Cristiano Ronaldo is the most followed person on Instagram. (Getty Images)
Cristiano Ronaldo is the most followed person on Instagram. (Getty Images) | Getty Images

Cristiano Ronaldo is the most followed person on the whole of Instagram with an incredible 560 million worldwide followers. Ronaldo currently plays in the Saudi Arabian Super League with Al Nassr where he earns an estimated £177 million per year in wages.

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The 38-year-old is viewed as one of the greatest footballers of all time alongside Argentinian star Lionel Messi. Ronaldo is a five time Ballon d’Or winner, a four time Champions League winner and the top goalscorer in the history of international football.

2. Lionel Messi: Football - 440 million

Lionel Messi guided Argentina to World Cup glory in 2022. (Getty Images)Lionel Messi guided Argentina to World Cup glory in 2022. (Getty Images)
Lionel Messi guided Argentina to World Cup glory in 2022. (Getty Images) | Getty Images

Lionel Messi has competed with Cristiano Ronaldo for almost every major accolade in the game for the best part of two decades - but he just misses out on top spot in the Instagram follower race.

The Argentinian superstar is widely viewed as one of the greatest footballers of all time and he further cemented his status by guiding his country to World Cup glory for the first time since 1986.

Messi has won a record seven Ballon d’Ors and has the most goals by a player at a single club with 672 goals for Barcelona. The 35-year-old is currently playing his football for French champions Paris Saint Germain.

3. Virat Kohli: Cricket - 240 million

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Virat Kohli is regarded as one of the greatest batsmen in the world. (Getty Images)Virat Kohli is regarded as one of the greatest batsmen in the world. (Getty Images)
Virat Kohli is regarded as one of the greatest batsmen in the world. (Getty Images) | Getty Images

Virat Kohli is an Indian cricketer and the current captain of the Indian national cricket team. He is viewed as one of the most talented batsmen in the world and he has won various honours throughout his career including the 2011 Cricket World Cup.

4. Neymar: Football - 206 million

Neymar is Brazil’s all-time leading goalscorer alongside Pele. (Getty Images)Neymar is Brazil’s all-time leading goalscorer alongside Pele. (Getty Images)
Neymar is Brazil’s all-time leading goalscorer alongside Pele. (Getty Images) | Getty Images

Brazilian footballer Neymar is the second most followed South American athlete in the world behind PSG team mate Lionel Messi. Neymar is viewed as one of the best players in the world and he is the joint highest scorer for the Brazil national team with 77 goals from 124 caps.

5. LeBron James: Basketball - 148 million

LeBron James is the top scorer in NBA history. (Getty Images)LeBron James is the top scorer in NBA history. (Getty Images)
LeBron James is the top scorer in NBA history. (Getty Images) | Getty Images

NBA record man LeBron James is the fifth most followed athlete in the world with 148 million followers. The Los Angeles star recently became the top scorer in NBA history by surpassing Kareem Abdul-Jabber’s 39 year record of 38,387 points.

6. Kylian Mbappe - Football - 100 million

Kylian Mbappe is regarded as one of the best strikers in world football. (Getty Images)Kylian Mbappe is regarded as one of the best strikers in world football. (Getty Images)
Kylian Mbappe is regarded as one of the best strikers in world football. (Getty Images) | AFP via Getty Images

World Cup golden boot winner Kylian Mbappe is the third PSG striker to appear on the list and he has a remarkable 100 million followers at just 24 years of age.

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Mbappe is viewed as one of the best footballers in the world and he guided his country to World Cup glory in 2018.

Mbappe is one of the most prolific goalscorers in Europe and he became just the second player in history to score in two consecutive World Cup finals after Pele.

7. David Beckham - Football - 78 million

David Beckham is the second most capped outfield player for England. (Getty Images)David Beckham is the second most capped outfield player for England. (Getty Images)
David Beckham is the second most capped outfield player for England. (Getty Images) | Getty Images

David Beckham retired in 2013 but he still remains a huge figure in the world of football as the co-owner of Inter Miami and Salford City.

At the peak of his powers the 47-year-old was regarded as a key player for England as captain and he made a total of 115 appearances - the second most of any outfield player.

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Beckham played for the likes of Manchester United, Real Madrid, LA Galaxy, AC Milan and PSG. He is also known for marrying Victoria Beckham from the UK’s best selling girl group Spice Girls.

8.  Ronaldinho - Football - 72.1 million

Ronaldinho is regarded as one of the best dribblers in football history. (Getty images)Ronaldinho is regarded as one of the best dribblers in football history. (Getty images)
Ronaldinho is regarded as one of the best dribblers in football history. (Getty images) | Getty Images

Ronaldinho is a Brazilian retired footballer who played as an attacking midfielder for the likes of PSG, Barcelona and AC Milan. He won two FIFA World Player of the Year awards in his career and a Ballon d’Or in 2005.

Ronaldinho is a global icon within the sport of football and he is renowned for his excellent dribbling ability and creativity. He guided his country Brazil to their last World Cup title in 2002 and also lifted the Champions League title with Barcelona.

9. Marcelo - Football - 62.4 million

Marcelo is the most decorated footballer in Real Madrid history. (Getty Images)Marcelo is the most decorated footballer in Real Madrid history. (Getty Images)
Marcelo is the most decorated footballer in Real Madrid history. (Getty Images) | Getty Images

Marcelo is a Brazilian left back who is currently playing his football with Fluminese. Marcelo is regarded as one of the best left backs of all-time and he is known for his incredible pace and ability to create chances from defensive areas.

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The Brazilian is the most decorated player in Real Madrid history with an incredible 25 trophies including five Champions League titles and six La Liga titles.

10. Zlatan Ibrahimovic - Football - 58.4 million

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has played for some of the world’s biggest teams including AC Milan, Barcelona and Manchester United. (Getty Images)Zlatan Ibrahimovic has played for some of the world’s biggest teams including AC Milan, Barcelona and Manchester United. (Getty Images)
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has played for some of the world’s biggest teams including AC Milan, Barcelona and Manchester United. (Getty Images) | Getty Images

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is a Swedish striker who currently plays for AC Milan. The 41-year-old is regarded as one of the best strikers of his generation and he is known for his powerful long range shots and acrobatic volleys.

Over the course of his career he has represented some of the biggest clubs in world football including Barcelona, AC Milan, Inter Milan, Juventus and Manchester United. Ibrahimovic also enjoyed a successful four year spell at PSG from 2012 to 2016 - making him the sixth PSG footballer to appear in this list.

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