The 15 Athletes Who Ruled Instagram in 2016

Ronaldo social main

It feels good to be the king—of Instagram.

Sports stars are some of the most dominant figures on social media, and this year, the proof is in the numbers—athletes like Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar, LeBron James, and Stephen Curry have millions of followers, making them some of the biggest names on Instagram.

Forbes put together a list of the most-followed athletes on the social media platform. Unsurprisingly, soccer stars dominated the list—among the top 15 only three other athletes made the cut: NBA superstars LeBron James and Stephen Curry, and boxer Floyd Mayweather. Just like some of the top ripped celebrities killing the workout game on Instagram, these players love to show off their physical prowess on social media.

Here’s a look at the biggest Instagram sports stars of 2016:

1. Cristiano Ronaldo – Real Madrid, La Liga – 82.9 million followers

The soccer superstar came in first on the list. with nearly 20 million more followers than fellow soccer player Neymar. Ronaldo (who crushes back workouts in his training, by the way) scored his most popular post of the year with his photo kissing the trophy after Portugal’s victory in the Euro 2016 tournament:

I always dream to win this title ❤️❤️❤️🔝🔝🔝👍👍

A post shared by Cristiano Ronaldo (@cristiano) on


2. Neymar – Barcelona, La Liga – 62.6 million followers

The Brazilian soccer star had a pretty big year—he helped his home country win the gold medal at the 2016 Summer Olympics. Unsurprisingly, Neymar’s most popular photo was one of him on the pitch wearing his gold medal.

A ti, toda honra e toda glória 🙏🏽🏅

A post shared by Nj 🇧🇷 👻 neymarjr (@neymarjr) on


3. Lionel Messi – Barcelona, La Liga – 60.1 million followers

While many consider Messi to be the best soccer player in the world, when it comes to Instagram, he’s third behind rival Ronaldo and teammate Neymar. Messi’s most popular post of the year was one of him hanging with his huge pet dog.

A post shared by Leo Messi (@leomessi) on

4. James Rodriguez – Real Madrid, La Liga – 27.2 million followers

Ronaldo’s teammate ranks two behind on the list. His most popular post of the year was a shot of himself holding the 2016 UEFA Champions League trophy in the team locker room.

Campeones! #HalaMadrid

A post shared by James Rodríguez (@jamesrodriguez10) on


5. LeBron James – Cleveland Cavaliers, NBA – 26.4 million followers

The NBA superstar brought home the first championship to the city of Cleveland in decades. Unsurprisingly, James’s most popular post was one of him holding the Larry O’Brien Trophy with his defiant Kermit-sipping-tea hat.


6. Gareth Bale – Real Madrid, La Liga – 24.6 million followers

Team circuit.. Balance work ⚖

A post shared by Gareth Bale (@garethbale11) on


7. Zlatan Ibrahimović – Manchester United, Premier League – 21.3 million followers


8. Ronaldinho Gaúcho – Brazil National Team Legend – 18.3 million followers

Mais um sonho realizado 🙏 Valeu @MikeTyson!! 💪👊

A post shared by Ronaldo de Assis Moreira (@ronaldinho) on

9. Luis Suárez – Barcelona, La Liga – 18.1 million followers

Trabajando duro para estar pronto cuanto antes 💪💪💪💪

A post shared by Luis Suarez (@luissuarez9) on


10. Karim Benzema – Real Madrid, La Liga – 16.1 million followers

Back at it 💪🏼

A post shared by Karim Benzema (@karimbenzema) on


11. David Luiz – Chelsea, Premier League – 15.1 million followers

Up to you…😉 #dontkillmyvibe

A post shared by David Luiz (@davidluiz_4) on


12. Andrés Iniesta – Barcelona, La Liga – 14.9 million followers

13. Marcelo Vieira – Real Madrid, La Liga – 14.3 million followers

Good session today!!! #M12⚽️

A post shared by Marcelo Vieira Jr. (@marcelotwelve) on


14. Stephen Curry – Golden State Warriors, NBA – 13.9 million followers


15. Floyd Mayweather – Boxing – 13.8 million followers

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