The Land of Lincoln is an American star-making machine smack dab in the middle of the country.
Sure, New York and Los Angeles are the destinations for most folks in show business to make a name for themselves. But Illinois is the birthplace or at least nurturing ground for so many of those famous names.
And the bright lights are not just reserved for entertainers.
So IllinoisBet took a pause from our coverage of events related to IL sports betting and dove into the most famous names to come out of the state.
We wanted to take a hyper-localized approach to see which celebrities who were raised in the state of Illinois have been discussed the most in the past year.
The list of the 10 Illinois celebrities drawing the most internet search volume over the past 12 months included some famous actors and musical luminaries, of course.
But athletes born or raised in the state – those who might draw interest on Illinois betting apps even if they don’t play for the Cubs, White Sox, Bears, Blackhawks, Bulls or Chicago Fire – certainly made a dent on our list as well.
Here are our findings.
IllinoisBet.com – the best place to find info on legal Illinois sportsbook promos – used a weighted system between AhRefs.com Keywords Explorer and Google Trends to look at the most searched Illinois celebrities over the past 12 months. Once we found both statistics, we averaged them to determine the Top 10.
An “Illinois celebrity” in this case is defined as a person who resided in the state in their formative childhood and/or teenage years for more than a decade. We included only actors/actresses, singer/songwriters, TV personalities, comedians, dancers, athletes and social media influencers.
At the top of the list with more than a million searches is 45-year-old Kanye West, who exploded onto the rap scene nearly 20 years ago. He has remained in the headlines – for reasons good, bad and bizarre – ever since. West was born in Atlanta but grew up in Chicago before his work as a rap producer took him to New York.
Since then? Oh, just fistfuls of Grammy Awards, odd (and truly awkward) moments at awards shows, a marriage to Kim Kardashian, a fashion line and, in 2020, a run for president that nobody seemed to take seriously except West himself.
Harrison Ford is second on the list, still going strong at age 80 as one of the most bankable actors in Hollywood history. The Chicago native has offered something for everyone in almost 50 years of movie stardom: Sci-fi immortality as Han Solo in the Star Wars franchise, action-adventure thrills in the also wildly successful Indiana Jones series – with the latest installment coming out this summer – and two films in the Jack Ryan series only scratch the surface.
Third on the Illinois celebs list is Anthony Davis, the longtime NBA star. Davis, 30, was born in Chicago and starred at Perspectives Charter School in the Windy City. Davis played one season of college ball at Kentucky before becoming the No. 1 overall pick of the New Orleans Pelicans in the 2012 NBA Draft.
His Los Angeles Lakers are in the NBA Western Conference final, but they trail the Denver Nuggets 3-0 in the best-of-seven series heading into tonight’s Game 4 in Los Angeles. As of Monday morning, customers using the Caesars sportsbook promo code Illinois can get the Lakers as 3-point favorites to extend the series.
The other athlete in the top 10 is new Raiders quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, at No.9. The Arlington Heights native played at Rolling Heights High School in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, then at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston. Garoppolo, 31, spent three seasons with the New England Patriots and six with the San Francisco 49ers before joining Las Vegas in the offseason.
Entertainers such as Melissa McCarthy, Vince Vaughn, Denise Richards, John Mulaney, Keke Palmer and Chance the Rapper (no bonus points for guessing his chosen field) also appear in our list.
But one more thought: Where is Bill Murray, perhaps the world’s most famous Chicago Cubs fan? Since his days on Saturday Night Live in the 1970s, the Evanston-born actor has been one of the most beloved and successful stars around. He is as busy as ever and has nearly 100 film credits listed at iMDB.
In any event, you can place a wager at Chicago sportsbooks for his Northsiders, or any other team, with a variety of operators.
Cited by leading media organizations, such as: