Meet Illinois’ Most Popular Athletes of 2022

Meet Illinois’ Most Popular Athletes of 2022
Fact Checked by Thomas Leary

With the calendar year coming to an end, it’s been a rollercoaster 12 months for Illinois sports fans and Illinois sports betting

For NBA supporters, the year started with disappointment, as the Bulls lost early in the playoffs, while the less we say about the Bears’ and White Sox' NFL and MLB campaigns, the better.

However, it’s been a strong year for individual performances, with many Illinois-born stars across each major league making a name for themselves. So, we wanted to compare the popularity of each to reveal the most hyped athletes from the Prairie State. 

By collecting online and social media performance data for each NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB star (who was actively playing at some point during 2022), we’re able to reveal the most popular players from Illinois over the last 12 months.

To do this, we created an index that considered five key factors with individual weightings adding up to 100.

These were: average monthly Google searches, Wikipedia page views, social media growth, social media mentions, and the percentage of online comments deemed positive. All of which were recorded over the last 12 months. 

So, without further ado, read on to find out who makes the top five and where your favorites rank. And remember, keep tabs on IllinoisBet for the best  Illinois sports betting promo codes.  

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1. Jimmy Garoppolo

With a whopping 2.5 million Wikipedia page views, a remarkable 1.4 million Google searches and the highest overall index score (63.6), Jimmy Garoppolo from San Francisco 49ers takes the crown as Illinois’ most popular sports star. 

Perhaps surprisingly, though, the quarterback had quite a significant decrease in follower growth in 2022, being down by 13.6k. So despite being the most popular sports star in Illinois, his social following seems to be dwindling. Perhaps it's because he just can't seem to stay healthy for a full season across Illinois NFL betting.

Still, with 240,000 social media mentions and a positive online conversation rate of 15.6%, it’s no shock that Jimmy G came out on top.

2. Anthony Davis

Another popular Illinois athlete: Lakers center Anthony Davis came in second place on our list. 

Chicago-born Davis has had a nifty 61,500 follower growth in 2022, as well as 669,000 social media mentions, a positive online sentiment rate of 12.2%, and a steady 57.4 index score. 

Davis essentially had the highest social media mentiosn in 2022, at a whopping 669,000, too. This is likely because he helped push the Lakers through to the NBA championship back in 2020, and his legacy lives on amongst fans who are hungry for another title with he and LeBron James leading the way. 

3. Patrick Beverley

With the highest follower growth in 2022 of all the players we’ve reviewed, at 123,000, Davis' Lakers teammate Patrick Beverley ranks third in our roundup of the most popular Illinois athletes with an index score of 44.1 out of 100.

Google search volumes are high for Beverley (394,000) too, as are his 2022 Wikipedia page views (739,000). And with a follower growth of 6,200 and 276,000 social media mentions, the NBA defensive specialist has seen a strong boost in popularity across the board. 

4. Kirk Cousins

Taking fourth spot among the most popular Illinois athletes is Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins, with an index score of 35.3. Cousins has seen a startling 276,000 social media mentions this year, along with a follower growth of 6,200! 

This could be due to the influential role he recently played in helping the Vikings earn victory in their first-ever home Thanksgiving game, winning 33-26. 

Just a couple weeks later, Cousins led the Vikings to the biggest comeback in NFL history after overcoming a 33-0 deficit against the Colts on Dec. 17.

Over at BetMGM Sportsbook Illinois, Cousins is +25000 to win NFL MVP.

5. Derrick Rose

With 353,000 Google searches, Knicks player Derrick Rose (31.6) rounds out the five most popular Illinois athletes. With a 20,500-follower growth and 147,000 social media mentions, fans have certainly been keeping up with Rose’s progression this season.

The Chicago-born former Bulls star might only finish fifth, but he has more Wikipedia page views in 2022 (917,000) than the other, higher-ranking athletes on the list. For instance, Davis (179,000), Beverley (845,00) and Cousins (739,000) all had lower page visits.

So, there it is – the most popular Illinois athletes of 2022. 

Now that you know where your favorite stars rank, according to our data, you can tell everyone you know. 

In the meantime, stay close to IllinoisBet for more insights on the best Illinois betting apps.


To determine Illinois' most popular athletes of 2022, we created an index that considered five key factors with individual weightings adding up to 100.

1. Average monthly Google search volumes = 30
   o Average volumes during 2022.
2. Wikipedia page views = 20
   o Page views during 2022.
3. Follower growth = 20
   o Growth of followers on Instagram during 2022.
4. Social media mentions = 20
   o The number of mentions on Twitter, Reddit and Instagram during 2022.
5. Percentage of positive conversations online = 10
   o All Percentage of Reddit and Twitter posts deemed positive during 2022.

To create the ranking, combined the score of each factor to get a final index score out of 100. And the higher the score, the more popular the athlete!



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