Here are the 10 Most Influential U.S. Olympians on Instagram

Modern Marketing
Social Media Marketing


Let’s travel back in time to the 2012 London Olympics. Instagram had recently been acquired by Facebook and boasted about 30 million users. Now, four years later, Instagram has become a social powerhouse, with a most recent count of over 500 million users.

During this year’s Olympic games, people have taken to Instagram to show their support for their favorite Olympians. Using hashtags, such as #teamusa, #olympics and #rio2016 as well as the tags @teamusa and @olympics. Even Olympians themselves have been chronicling their #RoadToRio journey.

Since we’re all about authentic influencers here at ReadyPulse, we took a look at these athletic Instagrammers, analyzing over 450 of their Insta profiles. While some have influence simply because of their high follower counts, others have incredibly engaged fans or have become legends during this year’s games. A proprietary mix of these and other Instagram stats has provided us with a list of the most influential Instagramming Olympians for the Rio Games.

1. Michael Phelps emoji-swimming

It’s no surprise to see Michael Phelps in the number one spot—a familiar place for 23-gold-medal-winner. Phelps’ 2.6 million followers (gaining nearly a million new followers this past week alone) and incredible fans is what pushed him to the top. Phelps has had over 3.6 million fan interactions since the beginning of August.


A photo posted by Michael Phelps (@m_phelps00) on


2. Simone Biles emoji-medal

Simone Biles tumbled into the spotlight this Olympic games, becoming the first female U.S. gymnast to win four gold medals in one games. With over 2.2 million Instagram followers, Biles has the most engaged fan base of any of these top 10 Olympians with over 6 million fan interactions.

A photo posted by Simone Biles (@simonebiles) on

3. Paul George emoji-basketball

Paul George is the third ranked influential U.S. Olympian on Instagram. A large reason for his influence is his community size of 3.7 million followers as well as his frequent posts about the Olympics.

A photo posted by Paul George (@ygtrece) on

4. Gabby Douglas 🏅

America’s sweetheart and member of the Fierce Five from the 2012 games, Gabby Douglas earns the fourth spot among influential Olympian ‘grammers. In addition to having over 1.6 million (and counting!) IG fans, she has a 64% share of voice, meaning she has been extremely engaged in using Olympic hashtags and @mentions.

5. Bubba Watson emoji-golf

A little surprised to see Bubba Watson here at #5? You shouldn’t be! Watson is the Instagram king at the Rio Games. Posting multiple times a day about meeting other proud Olympians and attending events while in Brazil. Watson has been diligent at using Olympic-themed hashtags and @mentions, earning him the most impressions for Olympic tagged content. While Matt Kuchar may have brought the U.S. bronze in golf, Watson brings gold in the Instagram games for golf. #urwelcome, Bubba.

A photo posted by Bubba Watson (@bubbawatson) on

6. Ryan Lochte emoji-swimming

Rounding out the top five is Phelps’ team member Ryan Lochte. Lochte just broke the 1 million-follower mark and has a large reach, meaning he has influence among his Instagram following along with other Instagrammers posting about him as well. Using Olympic-themed hashtags and posting frequently has added to Lochte’s Olympic clout. Interestingly, one of Lochte’s most popular posts is a sponsored post with Ralph Lauren.

A video posted by Ryanlochte (@ryanlochte) on

7. Hope Solo emoji-soccerball

Hope Solo comes in guarding the #7 spot. While her following is less than a million people, she has an extremely engaged audience. While the Instagram audience is engaged, it’s likely not all positive. Solo has been in the news (even getting booed during soccer matches) for her comments on the Zika virus in Brazil.

A photo posted by Hope Solo (@hopesolo) on

8. Klay Thompson emoji-basketball

Basketball players are accustomed to large social followings; and Klay Thompson is no exception with 2.6 million Instagram followers. However, it’s not just Thompson’s follower count that makes him an influential Olympian—he has an engaged audience as well (second only to Simone Biles). This b-ball player’s handle has been hashtagged over 4,000 times since the beginning of August.

9. Jake Dalton emoji-medal

Not only is Jake Dalton one of the Olympic’s “Hottest Hunks” (U.S. Weekly’s words, FYI), but he is also the 9th most influential Instagrammer for the Olympics—and a frequent ‘grammer at that. Regularly posting images of his Rio journey, Dalton has had over 400,000 likes on his photos since the beginning of August and over 4,000 comments on his posts.

10. Nathan Adrian emoji-swimming

The third swimmer to join the list, Nathan Adrian splashes into 10th place. While the swimmer’s following is a small and growing 339K followers, Adrian is a regular #Rio2016 hashtagger, posting frequently during the games. Posting about his medaled wins paid off, with each of his posts showing off his medals gathering high fan interactions.

Instagram data used for this post is from August 1 – August 17, 2016.