Just like other celebrities, athletes utilize social media websites such as Twitter to interact with fans, make their voices heard and also expand their personal and team brands. While Twitter serves as a free advertising tool for athletes who have personal accounts, some pros are paid money by companies to promote merchandise and other items via the website. Those who have mastered the art of mixing a fair amount of advertising along with fan interaction on Twitter make for entertaining follows that will not merely fill your timelines with link after link that you, truth be told, could not care less about.
When looking for athletes to follow on Twitter, one should not forget about those who called time on their playing days some time ago. One such former baseball star can be either wildly entertaining or mildly entertaining depending on how you view such individuals. Also included in the list is a man who made his name in WWE, an individual who still pops up from time to time in the squared-circle but is now more so a Hollywood megastar who is featured in movies and on multiple television programs.
Football, or soccer for those of you from North America, is the world's most popular game, and that fact is represented in the top Twitter accounts to follow. No athlete on the planet has more Twitter followers as of February 2015 than the man who is widely regarded as the best overall player in the world, an all-time great who has done it all and won it all at the club level. Somewhat ironic is that the list begins with a different type of footballer, an American male who could play a part in helping to reshape the North American top-flight.
20 Clint Irwin
The goalkeeper from the United States features for Colorado Rapids of the MLS. Irwin has not been shy about his feelings on the state of North American professional soccer, and has written several columns about the life of an American pro soccer player in the past. With MLS possibly featuring a work stoppage that could see the players strike if their demands are not met, Irwin is a must-follow for those who want to keep track of the situation from a player's point of view. Irwin is worth the follow even if the 2015 campaign does start on time.
19 Joel Embiid
The NBA rookie made quite the name for himself in July 2014 when he used Twitter to pursue none other than pop culture phenom Kim Kardashian. Upon learning that Mrs. Kardashian-West was married, he then chose to move on to Rhianna. Embiid has since threatened to leave the website on multiple occasions, but the young man has chosen to remain on Twitter. He uses the site to discuss player transactions that could/should have been, to voice his preferences for who he wants to win NFL games, and to show off his wardrobe.
18 Harry Kane
Think of this as an investment in your Twitter future, one of those cases of “I was following Kane before you were.” Kane is having a breakout campaign in his first year starting for Tottenham Hotspur, and no Premier League player has scored more goals across more competitions this season as of February 12th. All signs indicate that it is a matter of when and not if Kane will feature up top for the England National Team, and it has been reported that Real Madrid are already scouting the 21-year old who has been a revelation for Spurs under Mauricio Pochettino.
17 Johnny Manziel
The Twitter future of the young man known as “Johnny Football” sits in limbo at the moment, as the times of Manziel posting pictures of him hanging out with celebrities and fellow professional athletes may have come to an end. After an awful rookie campaign that includes allegations of Manziel not taking his job seriously, the quarterback on the roster of the Cleveland Browns voluntarily checked himself into treatment for a possible alcohol dependency. Follow Manziel's journey to see if he can make a comeback to football glory.
16 Jose Canseco
Whether he is attempting to run for mayor of a Canadian city, posting pictures of his cover model girlfriend or accidentally informing followers of how he has shot himself, you never know what you are going to get from the Twitter account of the former slugger. The outspoken Canseco has, to his credit, been proven right in the past when many viewed the opinions and allegations that he floated out there to be nothing more than nonsense. Perhaps we all should be listening to Canseco more closely when he posts about time travel being possible.
15 Ray Hudson
The former footballer who has since transitioned into a match announcer is not quite as entertaining over Twitter as he is on television, but he is nevertheless excellent on the Web. Hudson is keen on retweeting any link or blog post that is sent his way, ideal for those of you looking to get exposure to a piece that you have typed out. He also routinely comments on non-soccer leagues such as the NFL, NHL and MLB. Hudson's Twitter page can be summed up in one word: Magisterial.
14 Paul Bissonnette
Those of you looking for a NHL personality who will acknowledge and respond to your Tweets should give Bissonnette a follow. Bissonnette is currently playing in the American Hockey League looking to make a return to the NHL, and his attempted comeback along with his takes on everything from hockey to sports to entertainment make him arguably the top hockey player on the social media platform. He was even involved in a “The Bachelor” fantasy draft, for those who are interested in that program.
13 Sydney Leroux
Alex Morgan (more on her later) and Hope Solo are the two most recognized names associated with the United States Women's Soccer Team among casual sports fans who do not routinely follow women's soccer. Leroux could be the next breakout US Soccer star. The 24-year old has superstar talent and supermodel looks, and she will, so long as she can remain fully fit, feature for the US on the biggest state of women's soccer this coming summer. Leroux's days of heating up both Twitter and Instagram with her photos have only begun.
12 Hunter Pence
Pence has become an Internet sensation due to some comedic signs brought to MLB games by fans and because the San Francisco Giants player embraced the so-called “Yes Movement” begun by WWE superstar Daniel Bryan. Rather than try to pull away from such memes, Pence instead adopted his personality. Whether you want to see what he is up to, learn his thoughts on video games or just enjoy a solid Seinfeld reference, Pence will have you covered via his Twitter page.
11 The Iron Sheik
Whether or not this is actually Iron Sheik posting all of the Tweets that appear on his page remains a debatable topic, but wrestling fans who need a laugh every now and then should follow the man who once “humbled” opponents inside of the ring. Those of you who know anything about interviews that have involved the Sheik over the years are likely aware that his page is “Not Safe For Work” for a variety of reasons, most notably because of the – ahem – colorful language that appears in many of this Tweets.
10 Chris Kluwe
Love him, hate him or somewhere in between, Kluwe is as fascinating an NFL Twitter follow as there is out there. The former punter and social activist speaks his mind on any topic he pleases without fear of backlash. On top of that, Kluwe takes to Twitter just about every day. Outside of his thoughts on news events and video games, Kluwe also interacts with fans and with those who Tweet criticism and hate at him. Odds are that you will either be instantly hooked or find yourself clicking “Unfollow” in under a day once you begin following the outspoken Kluwe.
9 Danica Patrick
"Hate feeling guilted to tip bathroom attendants when I don't need help wiping my butt or hands. Haha!” This is just a small preview of what you will get when you follow Patrick on Twitter. Sure, Patrick will obviously use Twitter to promote her racing career and her business endeavors, but the racing personality and model utilizes the site to give fans daily looks at her life. Patrick will also, from time to time, Tweet back at fans when she notices certain messages.
8 Serena Williams
The greatest professional women's tennis player of all-time goes from Tweeting about her latest tournament victory to posting a picture of her hanging with the likes of Kenny Rogers on a weekly basis. Williams also saves you an additional follow if you do not have an Instagram account, as she frequently posts those photos on her Twitter page. When not Tweeting about tennis or celebrity encounters, Williams posts daily thoughts and also real-life interactions she has with fans and with people who do not recognize her.
7 Floyd Mayweather
The truth here is that you may feel a little bad about the state of your life if you follow Money Mayweather on Twitter. Along with using Twitter to promote upcoming fights and other events that he will be at, Mayweather freely and happily posts proof of seven-figure wagers that he makes on sporting events, selfies that include Mayweather hanging with celebrities, and pictures of expensive cars and of other toys the majority of us will never be able to afford. Mayweather was made for an era of sports that includes Twitter.
6 Novak Djokovic
The top overall tennis player in the world will take to Twitter even if he is busy training or waiting to compete at an event. Those who wish to cheer Djokovic on via the social media platform would do well to get used to seeing #NoleFam with every Tweet. That hashtag is the rallying cry for the Djokovic fan club. Djokovic will retweet the occasional fan post that is delivered his way, and he also uses Twitter to give fans weekly glimpses of his life off of the court.
5 The Rock
STILL the most electrifying man in sports and entertainment, Dwayne Johnson is now more of a television and movie star than he is a professional wrestler. The Rock does, from time to time, pop up at WWE events, and he will post about WWE on Twitter every now and again. His social media journeys also include inspirational quotes, incredible workout photos that show just how large The Rock has physically become, and also personal interactions with fans.
4 Alex Morgan
2015 could be yet another banner year for the United States Women's National Team star. With the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup only months away, national advertising campaigns featuring Morgan should once again pop up on television and in print. Morgan is a phenomenal athlete who has also featured as a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model. The 25-year old has been recognized as one of the best female footballer's in the history of US Soccer, and Morgan is expected to be fully recovered from an ankle injury by the time the World Cup rolls around.
Gone are the days of Kaka being one of the top-tier footballers in the world, but that does not mean that he is no longer an interesting follow on Twitter. The well-recognized and highly-popular player Tweets in multiple languages, and he also posts quotes and other inspirational messages from time to time. His latest footballing journey has taken him to MLS side Orlando City Soccer Club, where he very well may end his pro career. Take some glances as the sun sets on the playing days of a magical maestro.
2 LeBron James
James has, for years, stated the he is “a kid from Akron,” and the international superstar who made an emotional return to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the summer of 2014 proves that to be true via his Twitter account nearly every day. Whether he is using Twitter to wish a happy birthday to a good friend, giving a shout-out to his wife or posting a video that features his kids, James seems to be a down to earth character despite all of his basketball and financial successes. He is a refreshing Twitter follow in a world often dominated by “me over team” personalities.
1 Cristiano Ronaldo
The greatest footballer in the world today and perhaps of his generation has more Twitter followers than any other athlete on the planet. Ronaldo had approximately 33.5 million Twitter followers as of the posting of this piece. While Ronaldo and his camp understandably use the account to promote the player's line of merchandise, his Twitter page will also retweet fan posts that have been sent his way. As an example, Ronaldo's account was more than happy to retweet a plethora of birthday posts when the Real Madrid star turned 30-years old back on February 5th.