James Overtakes Jordan: LeBron James is America’s New Favorite Sports Star This Year While Michael Jordan Drops to Number Two

    New York, N.Y. – July 16, 2014 – The battle for number one continues with a change on top. As many have asked the LeBron James versus Michael Jordan question, we may not know how they would compare on the basketball court, but this year, James overthrows Jordan and is America’s favorite sports star. Last year, the reverse was true and Michael Jordon was number one while LeBron James was number two.

    As he makes his farewell tour around baseball fields this summer, New York Yankee Derek Jeter moves up three spots and is in the third position this year. Rounding out the top five is quarterback Peyton Manning, remaining at number four this year, and in a tie for the fifth spot on the list is another basketball star, Kobe Bryant, moving up from number seven, and NASCAR star Dale Earnhardt, Jr., moving up from number ten last year.

    These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,241 adults surveyed online between June 11 and 16, 2014.

    Looking at the rest of the top ten favorite sports stars another quarterback, Tom Brady is at number seven, down from number five last year. The season has not been great for Tiger Woods and he drops from number three to number eight on the list this year. Then two returning quarterbacks to the list – Drew Brees at number nine, who was last on the list in 2010 at the same spot, and Aaron Rodgers at number ten, who was last on the list in 2011, also at number ten.

    Since there are two sports stars returning, two stars dropped out of the top ten this year. Those stars are: quarterback Tim Tebow (was #8) and golfer Phil Mickelson (was #9).

    Different groups have their different favorites. For men, LeBron James is number one, but for women it’s Michael Jordan. There are also generational differences. Millennials and Baby Boomers say LeBron James is their favorite sports star, while for Gen Xers it is Michael Jordan and for Matures it is Derek Jeter. Politically, there are differences on the issues of today as well as who is the favorite sports star. Republicans say it is Derek Jeter, Democrats say it is Michael Jordan, and Independents say their favorite sports star is LeBron James.

    Favorite Female Sports Star

    She may have had some health issues while playing at Wimbledon, but for the fifth year in a row, Serena Williams is the Favorite Female Sport Star. Race car driver Danica Patrick remains at number two, while Venus Williams remains number three. Another tennis star, Maria Sharapova, is at number four again this year, while soccer legend Mia Hamm remains at number five.

    Skiing star Lindsey Vonn’s knee injury may have kept her out of the Olympic Games, but she moves up from number seven last year to a tie for number six this year. The next four are all either new or returning after an absence from the top ten list. In a tie for number six is tennis star Billie Jean King, who was last on the list in 2010 in a tie for number ten. In a tie for number eight is a newcomer to the list, soccer star Alex Morgan, and then another returning tennis champ, last on the list in 2008 at number eight, Chris Evert. In the number ten spot is returning volleyball champ Misty May, who was last on the list at a tie for number seven in 2010.

    The four female sports starts who dropped off the top 10 list this year are boxer Layla Ali (was #6) soccer star Hope Solo (was #8), gymnast Shawn Johnson (was #9) and Soccer star Abby Wambach (was #10).

    There are some demographic differences for favorite female sports star. Men say Danica Patrick is their favorite while women say it is Serena Williams. Regionally, Easterners and Westerners both say Danica Patrick is their favorite female sports star while Midwesterners and Southerners say Serena Williams is their favorite. Generationally, Serena Williams is the favorite for Millennials while Danica Patrick is the favorite for the other three generations.

     

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    TABLE 1

    FAVORITE SPORTS STAR – TOP 10 RANKING

    Who is your favorite sports star?

    Base: All adults

    1993

    1994

    1995

    1996

    1997

    1998

    1999

    2003

    2004

    2005

    LeBron James

    *

    *

    *

    *

    *

    *

    *

    *

    *

    *

    Michael Jordan

    1

    1

    1

    1

    1

    1

    1

    1

    1

    1

    Derek Jeter

    *

    *

    *

    *

    *

    *

    *

    *

    10

    5

    Peyton Manning

    *

    *

    *

    *

    *

    *

    *

    *

    7

    2

    Kobe Bryant

    *

    *

    *

    *

    *

    *

    *

    7

    6

    *

    Dale Earnhardt Jr.

    *

    *

    *

    *

    *

    *

    8

    *

    5

    8

    Tom Brady

    *

    *

    *

    *

    *

    *

    *

    *

    *

    7

    Tiger Woods

    *

    *

    *

    *

    *

    *

    7

    2

    2

    3

    Drew Brees

    *

    *

    *

    *

    *

    *

    *

    *

    *

    *

    Aaron Rodgers

    *

    *

    *

    *

    *

    *

    *

    *

    *

    *

    2006

    2007

    2008

    2009

    2010

    2011

    2013

    2014

    LeBron James

    8

    5

    *

    3

    6

    *

    2

    1

    Michael Jordan

    2

    3

    2

    2

    7

    =3

    1

    2

    Derek Jeter

    4

    2

    7

    5

    3

    1

    6

    3

    Peyton Manning

    *

    8

    =8

    7

    5

    2

    4

    4

    Kobe Bryant

    7

    9

    4

    4

    =1

    =3

    7

    =5

    Dale Earnhardt Jr.

    5

    6

    6

    8

    10

    *

    10

    =5

    Tom Brady

    *

    10

    =8

    *

    8

    6

    5

    7

    Tiger Woods

    1

    1

    1

    1

    =1

    5

    3

    8

    Drew Brees

    *

    *

    *

    *

    9

    *

    *

    9

    Aaron Rodgers

    *

    *

    *

    *

    *

    10

    *

    10

    * Not listed in that year

    On the 2013 List But Dropped off Top 10 This Year – Tim Tebow (was 8) and Phil Mickelson (was 9)


    TABLE 2

    FAVORITE SPORTS STAR AMONG DIFFERENT DEMOGRAPHIC GROUPS

    Base: All adults

    Gender

    Men

    LeBron James

    Women

    Michael Jordan

    Race/Ethnicity

    White

    Derek Jeter

    African American

    LeBron James/Michael Jordan

    Hispanic

    LeBron James

    Generation

    Millennials (ages 18-36)

    LeBron James

    Gen X (ages 37-48)

    Michael Jordan

    Baby Boomers (ages 49-67)

    LeBron James

    Matures (ages 68+)

    Derek Jeter

    Region

    East

    Derek Jeter

    Midwest

    LeBron James

    South

    LeBron James

    West

    Michael Jordan

    Political Party

    Republican

    Derek Jeter

    Democrat

    Michael Jordan

    Independent

    LeBron James


    TABLE 3

    FAVORITE FEMALE SPORTS STAR – TOP-10 RANKING

    Thinking about the female sports stars you like, which ones are your favorites?

    Base: All adults

    2004

    2005

    2006

    2007

    2008

    2009

    2010

    2011

    2013

    2014

    Serena Williams

    2

    2

    2

    1

    2

    1

    1

    1

    1

    1

    Danica Patrick

    *

    *

    5

    2

    1

    3

    3

    3

    2

    2

    Venus Williams

    1

    3

    1

    3

    3

    2

    2

    2

    3

    3

    Maria Sharapova

    *

    *

    8

    5

    4

    =6

    5

    4

    4

    4

    Mia Hamm

    3

    1

    3

    4

    5

    5

    4

    5

    5

    5

    Lindsey Vonn

    *

    *

    *

    *

    *

    *

    *

    *

    7

    =6

    Billie Jean King

    *

    =8

    *

    *

    10

    *

    =10

    *

    *

    =6

    Alex Morgan

    *

    *

    *

    *

    *

    *

    *

    *

    *

    =8

    Chris Evert

    9

    =9

    *

    *

    8

    *

    *

    *

    *

    =8

    Misty May

    *

    *

    *

    *

    *

    *

    =7

    *

    *

    10

    *Not listed in that year

    Those on the 2010 List Who Have Dropped Out of the Top Ten This Year

    Layla Ali (was 6), Hope Solo (was 8), Shawn Johnson (was 9), and Abby Wambach (was 10)

     

    TABLE 4

    FAVORITE FEMALE SPORTS STAR AMONG DIFFERENT DEMOGRAPHIC GROUPS

    Base: All adults

    Gender

    Men

    Danica Patrick

    Women

    Serena Williams

    Generation

    Millennials (ages 18-36)

    Serena Williams

    Gen X (ages 37-48)

    Danica Patrick

    Baby Boomers (ages 49-67)

    Danica Patrick

    Matures (ages 68+)

    Danica Patrick

    Race/Ethnicity

    White

    Danica Patrick

    Black/African American

    Serena Williams

    Hispanic

    Danica Patrick

    Region

    East

    Danica Patrick

    Midwest

    Serena Williams

    South

    Serena Williams

    West

    Danica Patrick

    Political Party

    Republican

    Danica Patrick

    Democrats

    Serena Williams

    Independents

    Danica Patrick

     

    Methodology

    This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between June 11 and 16, 2014 among 2,241 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

    All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, The Harris Poll avoids the words margin of error as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

    Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Poll surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in our panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

    These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

    The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of The Harris Poll.

    The Harris Poll #68, July 16, 2014

    By Regina A. Corso, VP, Harris Poll and Public Relations Research