The Influential Activist Athlete

In recent years we have seen a significant uptick in activism in our country. Lead largely by Millennials and a resurgence of students getting involved in grassroots movements supporting multiple, and varied, causes. There has also been the return of the “Influential Activist” among athletes. With that in mind we took a look at which athletes Millennials believe are combining their influence with activism for the “Top Influential Activist Athletes” list.

Whether in support of LGBT rights, Black Lives Matter, or Water For Flint, athletes have stepped up to lend their platforms and influence to causes that are far reaching and diverse.

Top Influential Activist Athletes


Data source: E-Score® Celebrity. Fielded among respondents born between 1981-2000. Rankings based on combination of Influence and Activist scores.

Leaders of Social Change

Considered to be the most “Influential Activist” by Millennials, Abby Wambach has an Activist score that is over six times higher than the average athlete, and has leant her influence to several causes including closing the gender pay gap.

Another highly outspoken athlete is making significant strides in calling out gender inequality is Venus Williams. E-Poll® respondents call her “Inspiring.” She has used her 92% Appeal (people who like her at least somewhat) to bring greater attention to equal treatment for women even beyond just pay.

On the men’s side, not surprisingly, especially after his part in the opening of the 2016 Espys, Lebron James appears on our list. Being widely considered the best basketball player in the world, and being twice as Influential as the average athlete among Millennials, has given Lebron an enormous platform to advocate for causes close to his heart. He has spoken out about gun control, Black Lives Matter and more, and has also setup programs to send kids to college.

Michael Jordan The Activist

Michael_Jordan_in_2014.jpgAlthough not a current athlete, Michael Jordan is the second most influential athlete (current or former) among Millennials, but has been largely silent on social issues. In fact, Jordan’s Influential score is 3.5 times higher than the average athlete, but he has an activist score of just 2%. However, with the recent news of his $1,000,000 donations to both the Institute for Community-Police Relations and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, he is looking to change that perception.


Millennials show a strong affinity toward authenticity. While they may not agree with every stance an athlete makes, they can at least appreciate the authenticity in expressing your views. The level to which an athlete uses their influence to advocate is a factor in whom Millennials connect with.


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