This post has been updated.
If English soccer superstar Wayne Rooney had a dollar for every Twitter follower, the former Everton midfielder would be $17.2 million richer. That’s more than the 2 1/2-year guaranteed contract Rooney has reportedly agreed to with D.C. United.
Rooney, who will join the MLS club in time for the opening of its new stadium next month, instantly becomes the most famous athlete in D.C. That’s no small feat, given that he shares a city with superstars Alex Ovechkin, Bryce Harper and John Wall, as well as Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Bradley Beal, Elena Delle Donne, Josh Norman, T.J. Oshie and, for a couple cameos with the Kastles this summer, Venus Williams.
Social media is only one measuring stick of an athlete’s influence and fame, but consider this: Rooney’s 17.2 million Twitter followers are more than those of the aforementioned D.C. athletes, plus every other D.C. athlete with at least 100,000 followers — and the accounts for all of D.C.’s sports teams — combined. In fact, only Ovechkin, Wall, Williams and Redskins tight end Vernon Davis, whose 1.96 million followers make him the second-most popular D.C. athlete on Twitter behind Ovechkin (!?), have more Twitter followers than Rooney’s wife, Coleen, who has 1.32 million followers.
Here are all the athletes on D.C. teams who have at least 100,000 Twitter followers:
Alex Ovechkin (Capitals): 2.72M
Vernon Davis (Redskins): 1.96M
John Wall (Wizards): 1.93M
Venus Williams (Kastles): 1.77M
Bryce Harper (Nationals): 966K
T.J. Oshie (Capitals): 400K
Bradley Beal (Wizards): 391K
Max Scherzer (Nationals): 320K
Elena Delle Donne (Mystics): 247K
Josh Norman (Redskins): 213K
Bob Bryan (Kastles): 155K
Marcin Gortat (Wizards): 147K
Stephen Strasburg (Nationals): 140K
Luciano Acosta (D.C. United): 139K
Ryan Kerrigan (Redskins): 132K
Lars Eller (Capitals): 126K
Gio Gonzalez (Nationals): 125K
Mike Bryan (Kastles): 115K
Colt McCoy (Redskins): 111K
Nicklas Backstrom (Capitals): 109K
John Carlson (Capitals): 102K
And here are the follower counts for D.C.’s teams:
D.C. United: 129K
Combined, that’s 16.1 million Twitter followers, still more than a million fewer than Rooney’s count. Rooney joined Twitter in April 2011. In 2012, he became the sixth athlete to surpass four million followers, joining Kaka, Cristiano Ronaldo, Shaquille O’Neal, LeBron James and Neymar. Kaka, Ronaldo, James and Neymar continue to outpace Rooney on Twitter, but he has since surpassed O’Neal, who has 15.2 million followers. Some of the other athletes with more Twitter followers than Rooney include cricket players Sachin Tendulkar (25.9M) and Virat Kohli (24.9M), soccer players Andres Iniesta (23M), Mesut Ozil (22.9M), Gerard Pique (18.7M) and Ronaldinho (17.8), and NBA star (and D.C. native) Kevin Durant (17.6M).
Last year, ESPN ranked Rooney No. 31 on its “World Fame 100″ — a list of the 100 most famous athletes in the world based on a formula that combines social media following with endorsements and Internet search popularity. No athletes from a D.C. team made the list.
So, is Rooney a good follow on Twitter? That depends whether you enjoy tweets about hair transplants. The Telegraph took a look at some of his all-time weirdest tweets last year:
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