Athletes: They’re just like you and me. They eat, sleep, and are painfully aware of how many views their latest Instagram story is getting.
Driving the news: As the US Open continues, Genie Bouchard will be on the sidelines after failing to qualify. Despite this, and the fact she also failed to qualify for Wimbledon this summer, a recent study ranked her as the fifth-most valuable Canadian athlete influencer.
- With a devoted fanbase and 2.4 million Instagram followers, Bouchard still scores big endorsements as an influencer despite being far removed from the top of her game.
Zoom out: Subpar athletic performance (relatively speaking, obviously) hasn't gotten in the way of non-stars using social media to earn popularity and pivot to more lucrative careers.
Ex-NHL’er Paul Bissonette (seven career goals) and Ex-NFL’er Pat McAfee (a punter) both became popular pundits mainly because they were funny on Twitter.
- Golf influencer Paige Spiranac converted a failed professional golf career into “golf’s largest social media empire,” where she can earn US$100,000 per sponsored post.
Plus: Since 2021, NCAA athletes have been able to profit from their image, leading to a rush of US college athletes turning to influencer marketing to cash in. Many of the most popular college athletes on social media aren’t necessarily the best in their field.
Livvy Dunne, the poster child for NCAA athlete influencers, has had a good, not amazing, collegiate career…
…but thanks to viral videos and 7.8 million TikTok followers, she’s accrued millions and once made US$500,000 for a single sponsored post.
Bottom line: Influencing offers a way for athletes who aren’t top-level talent to rake in top-level cheques. Ultimately, real superstars are still going to come out on top—like soccer phenom Alphonso Davies, who conquered the list of Canadian athlete influencers.—QH