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Top Twitter Athlete of 2010

In 2010, we’ve seen professional athletes come a long way in social media, and perhaps there’s no better platform as evidence of this than Twitter. The amount of engagement in the last year going on in the space has been phenomenal but after doing polls on the top sports professionals and top sports resources of 2010, we were curious to see who you thought the top athlete on twitter was. For more information how each athlete has ‘won’ using Twitter, read below the fold. Voting will end on next Monday and we’ll announce all the winners shortly after!

[poll id=”3″]

Steve Nash @SteveNash

Not only does Nash engage with fans through videos, parodies, and behind the scenes content, but he also deserves praise for assisting teammates like Grant Hill and Jared Dudley for getting on Twitter. As a whole, his Phoenix Suns are one of these most active teams on Twitter, period.

Shaquille O’Neal @THE_REAL_SHAQ

You could say he’s the Godfather of all athletes on social media – the first big name in sports to engage users with Twitter. Some even say he alluded to the overall success of Twitter. He has since cooled off, but his antics and engagement are still as fun as ever.

Robbie Rogers @RobbieRogers

Although soccer is hardly a grassroots sport, it’s not as popular in America as it ought to be. However, Robbie Rogers has quietly built a strong fan base for himself as a member of Major League Soccer’s Columbus Crew through a healthy dose of engagement, and using creative ways to give out swag.

Chad Ochocinco @ogochocinco

He’s quirky, eccentric, and often gets suspended from Twitter. But he’s real, and fans love him for that.

Paul Bissonnette @BizNasty2point0

The resident no-name athlete turned Twitter superstar. He is probably the least known on this list of athletes, and yet I wouldn’t be surprised to see him win at all. His personality, charisma, and ability to make light of serious situations while remaining genuine is second to none. He routinely pokes fun of his own playing time (not a lot), and talks a lot about the homeless. How could you not vote for this zinger?

Kevin Durant @KDthunderup

When KD’s not on the court practicing, he spends a lot of time engaging with his fan base, hosting Q&A sessions on Twitter, and showing exclusive content creatively through his ‘neighbor‘.

Nate Robinson @Nate_Robinson

Boy, can you tell that basketball players are dominating social media right now? Nate is another one of those mid-tier players who has elevated their brand using social media tools. However, he is also a hustler, as I’ve personally seen him tweeting at obscene hours of the day.

Tiger Woods @TigerWoods

In a desperation move to save what’s left of his public figure, Tiger turned to Twitter, and so far the response has been positive. Will it be enough?


Like Shaq, Kerry was a pioneer of sorts on Twitter. Partly of his success on the space, practically the whole New York Jets (his former team) roster is now on Twitter. Not too shabby.

Larry Fitzgerald @LarryFitzgerald

Larry is an example of a guy who ‘gets it’. He engages with his fans, and talks sports with them. It isn’t always about him, or even football, but he’s a true listener and his 600,000 fans love him for it.

LeBron James @KingJames

We’ve talked about the possibilities for LeBron if he embraced social media for a long time, and it appears he has finally done so. It’s not without controversy, but when you’ve got a reach that big, every step you take is analyzed. However, when the chalk clears, LeBron may still end up gaining more on the social media space than anyone else here.

Image by Keithallison

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30 Responses to Top Twitter Athlete of 2010

  1. SportsWebMedia December 21, 2010 at 12:58 pm #

    No nominees from outside the US? That’s pretty sad because there are some fantastic UK and Europe based Tweeters, not to mention Australia and the East.

    Here are 10 non-US based nominees: –


  2. SportsWebMedia December 21, 2010 at 1:04 pm #

    No nominees from outside the US? That’s pretty sad because there are some fantastic UK and Europe based Tweeters, not to mention Australia and the East.

    Here are 10 non-US based nominees: –

    rubens barrichello
    graeme swann
    ian poulter
    yuvraj singh
    kevin pietersen
    shane warne
    rio ferdinand
    rory mcilroy
    andrew flintoff
    amir khan

  3. SportsWebMedia December 21, 2010 at 1:12 pm #

    Shame the @ tags don’t work, a problem with the site code I think. Here they are: –


  4. SportsWebMedia December 21, 2010 at 1:13 pm #

    A shame the @ tags don’t work, a problem with the code I think.

  5. JMattHicks December 21, 2010 at 1:32 pm #

    @SportsWebMedia Hey this is Jeremy from Livefyre. We’re aware of the bug that’s causing an error when you click on a user tagged by Twitter and we’re working to fix it now.

    BTW, I’m not a huge ManU fan, but Rio Ferdinand is a BEAST on the soccer field.

  6. JennaTest December 21, 2010 at 1:36 pm #

    test, will delete

  7. SportsWebMedia December 21, 2010 at 1:43 pm #

    @JMattHicks Thanks for this update Jeremy! Just so you know, the code has still automatically sent an at-reply to the athletes in question.

    Rio Ferdinand is a fine athlete indeed and also a very example of how Twitter can be used to improve public image and communicate personally with fans.

  8. JMattHicks December 21, 2010 at 1:51 pm #

    @SportsWebMedia Thanks for the heads-up on that info, we appreciate it.

    Rio does a great job as well as some of the cricket players you metioned. I’m going to follow a few more of them since you’ve mentioned them…I lived in Germany for 6 years and I’ve gotten out of touch with the European atheltes as well as my favorite soccer club, FCK (FC Kaiserslautern).

  9. JMattHicks December 21, 2010 at 1:58 pm #

    Even though I’m a huge Fightin’ Texas Aggie fan and Kevin Durant was a Longhorn that caused my Aggies fits on the court, I love what he does with social media as well as his persona as a whole. He’s very down to earth and even in a small market like OKC, he does all he can to give that city as much life and positive publicity as possible. I respect that. My vote goes to Kevin Durant.

  10. SportsWebMedia December 21, 2010 at 2:23 pm #

    @JMattHicks One thing I have noticed with the English-speaking European, South African and Australian athletes in particularly, is that they have more Twitter ‘banter’ together, i.e. in-jokes amongst teammates, pranks on each other and general online fun out in the public eye. This gives fans a further insight into their genuine personalities, which is was simply not possible before the advent of social media.

    Also there has been a large amount of ‘cross-pollination’ amongst different sports and disciplines that wasn’t so obvious before the Twitter boom. Golfers and rugby players bounce ideas and jokes off each other and everything is very light-hearted. This uncovers a large well-natured sports community, even at professional level, which will have knock-on sociological effects to the next generation of athlete-idolising kids.

    I’m not sure if this is present in the US, or indeed in Germany, but it bodes well for any sports stars looking to make their mark in social media.

  11. JMattHicks December 21, 2010 at 2:53 pm #

    @SportsWebMedia And I think that banter is awesome. You can see Michael Vick’s latest tweet interacting with LeBron, D-Wade, and Chris Bosh joking about “Miami’s Big 4” if Vick was somehow a Heat player. It’s cool to see athletes be real people. You couldn’t be more correct about that.

    I think if you’re in sports, social media is a great way to build a solid fan base for not just yourself but your organization as well, who will take note of your value to that organization in the social media realm.

  12. anothersamchan December 21, 2010 at 6:46 pm #

    Thank you for this list. We would have loved to have added some nominees from outside North America (Paul Biznasty and Steve Nash are canadian) but in all honesty, I just don’t know too much about the studs of Twitter overseas (unlike you) and we didnt’ want to pick someone overseas “just because”, but we’ll continue to improve and think of a best way to incorporate as many of the great athletes on twitter out there.

    Note – there are also no baseball players on the list, so it wasn’t intended to have an american bias, although I understand why it may look that way 🙂

  13. anothersamchan December 21, 2010 at 6:48 pm #

    @JMattHicks @SportsWebMedia Bantering between teammates and other athletes is hilarious, but I think its all about a mix. There’s a few out there that only tweet out and @ reply the “elite” people they know….and that’s no fun.

    Justin Bieber tweeting the Miami big 3 gave me a little crack though.

  14. anothersamchan December 21, 2010 at 6:49 pm #

    @JMattHicks Me too, I had a hell of a time voting myself….and even compiling the list with Lewis. There’s just so many out great tweeters out there!

  15. SportsWebMedia December 21, 2010 at 7:26 pm #

    @anothersamchan Firstly, Canadians – I apologise for my ignorance!!

    I had a nice long reply all written, but just as I went to hit ‘post’ my mac had issues…. so, maybe another time!

  16. BonkBLVD December 21, 2010 at 10:31 pm #

    Super surprised to see the absence of Tony Hawk (@tonyhawk) from this list. The dude rocks it on Twitter. Uses it in super creative ways…hides some of his old skateboard decks in a city and gives clues on how to find them…same with giving away his Wii game (Ride). Shares videos and pics. Personal. Has a huge following.

    Worthy, for sure.

  17. anothersamchan December 22, 2010 at 12:36 am #

    @BonkBLVD Definitely worthy! Tony Hawk’s twitpic of him skateboarding at the whitehouse was sick.

    If he keeps it up, will remedy that in the future for sure.

  18. anothersamchan December 22, 2010 at 12:37 am #

    @JMattHicks a bit off tune, but think you could hook me up on livefrye for some other sites? hit me up!

  19. davismedpr December 22, 2010 at 9:48 am #

    WTF? No write-in voting allowed? Zenyatta is one of the biggest sports stories/social media-aware athletes out there (or at least her handlers are). Gimme a break. ZENYATTA for the win!

  20. SportsWebMedia December 22, 2010 at 9:53 am #

    @davismedpr Isn’t Zenyatta a horse? Can’t really be classed as an athlete…. If they were, why not throw Nike or Wal-Mart into the poll as well?!

  21. davismedpr December 22, 2010 at 10:01 pm #

    @SportsWebMedia @davismedpr Duh? A finely-trained competitive racehorse like Zenyatta (20 lifetime starts – 19 consecutive wins – 1 loss…by a nose in her final race) ISN’T an athlete? Get real. At least she never injured a dog or cheat on a spouse….

  22. lomacca December 30, 2010 at 11:51 pm #

    @anothersamchan @SportsWebMedia Sadly the one common recurring feature associated with US/North American Sports is to be insular and mistakenly assume everything revolves around these markets. Great to see the ‘non-US’ list and this site could really benefit from more non-US sports contributors and examples of good practice.

    Oh, and the earlier point about ‘soccer’ not being a grassroots sport is simply ludicrous and, again, too insular. I won’t be voting as the list doesn’t contain a true representation in my opinion of Twitter as a whole – hopefully the 2011 list will do.

    Other than that, keep up the good work guys…

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