March 02, 2011
The biggest athlete in professional sports is also the biggest athlete on Twitter.
NBA star Shaquille O'Neal has the most followers of any athlete on the social media site, with over 3.5 million users reading his tweets. Brazilian soccer star Kaka is second on the list, more than 500,000 followers behind.
Though athletic success is a good yardstick in determining which men and women have the most followers, it's not as reliable an indicator as you'd think. For instance, Tiger Woods isn't in the top 10 but Chad Ochocinco is. (Tiger actually has fewer followers than fellow golfers Stewart Cink and Ian Poulter.) LeBron James cracks the list but comes in behind Reggie Bush. And of all the baseball players with accounts, one-time All-Star Nick Swisher is the most popular. (It doesn't hurt that he's on the New York Yankees.)
Here's the list of the top-10 athletes on Twitter, along with a sample tweet and a summary of their favorite subjects:
1. Shaquille O'Neal -- @THE_REAL_SHAQ -- 3,564,335 followers -- 51 tweets (in the month of February)
Follow if you like: words with syllables replaced with "shaq," breezy NBA talk, Sprite.
2. Kaka -- @kaka -- 2,934,112 followers -- 57 tweets
3. Serena Williams -- @serenawilliams -- 1,931,286 followers -- 412 tweets
Follow if you like: reading about how much Serena Williams loves Green Day, her family and Kim Kardashian.
4. Cristiano Ronaldo -- @Cristiano -- 1,914,172 followers -- 88 tweets
Follow if you like: polite social media discourse and false modesty.
5. Dwight Howard -- @DwightHoward -- 1,874,255 followers -- 22 tweets
Follow if you like: reading tweets that appear to be written by a 13-year-old girl.
6. Paul Pierce -- @paulpierce34 -- 1,745,039 followers -- 69 tweets
Follow if you like: updates about what Paul Pierce is doing with his evening.
7. Chad Ochocinco -- @ochocinco -- 1,741,178 followers -- 630 tweets
Follow if you like: stream of conciousness rants that aren't quite as crazy as Charlie Sheen's; lots and lots and lots and lots of replies to fans.
8. Reggie Bush -- @reggie_bush -- 1,555,080 followers -- 61 tweets
Follow if you like: Reggie Bush (of the 10 athletes on the list, Bush is the only one I'd actually follow. He's often witty and posts frequently enough to keep you interested but not so much that you feel like he's taking over your Twitter feed, OCHOCINCO).
9. LeBron James -- @kingjames -- 1,492,952 followers -- 46 tweets
Follow if you like: quotes from Batman movies, updates on new mixtapes, hearing about the greatness of LeBron's Miami Heat teammates.
10. Nick Swisher -- @nickswisher -- 1,273,939 followers -- 64 tweets
Follow if you like: Nick Swisher's travel plans.
Thanks to Tweeting-Athletes.com for reference in compiling this list
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