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Social media influencers: Olivia Dunne, the Cavinder twins, Paige Spiranac and Jake Paul

Sports stars already have significant influence. But their impact is bigger than ever before… thanks to social media.

Fans are used to Cristiano Ronaldo’s topless snaps, Tyson Fury launching into whatever takes his fancy and LeBron James’s frequent updates on their respective platforms – consumed by millions worldwide.

But social media influencers are a whole new level and they’ve garnered traction in the sporting world.

Yes, they are known within their specific sport circles but ultimately they’ve developed their fame through posts and the content they create and share.

Here, Dailymail.com takes a look at the social media influencers in sport as the role continues to prove more and more popular.

The 30-year tried to be a professional golfer

 Former golfer Paige Spiranac leads the way when it comes to sport social media influencers

Spiranac uploads sultry pictures of herself in skimpy golf outfits and bikinis

Spiranac has previously recognized that her target audience predominantly consists of men

Spiranac uploads sultry pictures of herself in skimpy golf outfits and bikinis onto her channels

Paige Spiranac

The glamorous American golfer leads the way in having carved out a lucrative career for herself from her social media channels.

Spiranac, 30, went down the influencing route when her efforts to play professionally for a living didn’t come to fruition back in 2016 and although there’s been challenges along the way, she has produced a flourishing business.

Born in Colorado, Spiranac uploads sultry pictures of herself in skimpy golf outfits and bikinis, complemented by golf trick shots to build up a fanbase of 3.7 million Instagram followers.

That is the highest number of followers within golf’s social media space. That’s right even more than 15-time major champion Tiger Woods.

Spiranac, in fact, gets $2,000 more than the American star, who is followed by 3.1m, from her Instagram posts.

She is worth around $3.7m, taking in roughly $12,000 per post. But the nature of the job leaves her wide open for scrutiny.

Fake copycat accounts have been set up to try to make money while she was left in tears and traumatized after being verbally attacked on the golf course over her outfit.

Sick trolls labeled her ‘fat’ and ‘ugly’ after she was crowned Maxim’s sexiest woman. She said she’s also received death threats.

The American bombshell earned herself the title of 'world's sexiest woman' from Maxim

The American bombshell earned herself the title of ‘world’s sexiest woman’ from Maxim 

She has built up a fanbase of 3.7 million Instagram followers

Spiranac has more followers than Tiger Woods

Spiranac has built up a fanbase of 3.7 million Instagram followers – more than Tiger Woods

Spiranac’s Instagram page actually appears as Paige Renee. She had to delete her original Instagram profile and change her name after she was stalked by a group of girls at university, she claims.

The American bombshell’s target audience is largely men and she recently shed light on the ‘gross’ remarks she gets when photographed with male athletes and celebrities.

She is ‘so down’ to play with NFL legend Tom Brady or Woods but claims ‘disgusting sexual’ rumors stop her participating in such events.

Spiranac’s popularity earned her a podcast three years ago as she teamed up with iHeart Media with the series covering sports and sex.

She took on the special correspondent position for ‘Inside Edition’ at Super Bowl LVII in February and publicized a photo of her taking down a tackling dummy onto Twitter.

She added: ‘How men expect me to act when they send d*** pics in the DMs.’

Spiranac's popularity earned her a podcast three years ago

Spiranac's Instagram page appears as Paige Renee

Spiranac’s Instagram page appears as Paige Renee after deleting her original profile

Olivia Dunne 

At just 20 years old Dunne has become a social media sensation and is viewed as one of the most influential athletes in college due to her work online.

The junior shares flirty Instagram photos as well as lip-sync videos to TikTok, creating a net worth of $2.3m.

Dunne began gymnastics at three years old – and she is now one of the top earners in collegiate sport. 

The New Jersey native, who combines gymnastics with sponsorship deals, shares her elaborate lifestyle with her more than seven million TikTok followers.

The young gymnast is among a group of female athletes raking in millions through name, image and likeness (NIL) deals.

Olivia Dunne is viewed as one of the most influential college athletes due to social media work

Olivia Dunne is viewed as one of the most influential college athletes due to social media work

The junior shares flirty photos to Instagram

She combines gymnastics with sponsorship deals

The junior, who combines gymnastics with sponsorship deals, shares flirty photos to profile

On June 30, 2021, the NCAA announced that it would allow its athletes to earn a profit off of their name, image, and likeness - a move that turned Dunne into a millionaire at only 18

On June 30, 2021, the NCAA announced that it would allow its athletes to earn a profit off of their name, image, and likeness – a move that turned Dunne into a millionaire at only 18

College athletes were granted permission to get involved in such deals fairly recently. The move has seen a rise in female athletes posting candid and skittish shots to attract followers, which in turn improves endorsements. 

Dunne has created her wealth by posting sponsored ads on her social media pages accompanied with snaps showing off her body.

Her posts saw her link up with American Eagle Outfitters and Vuori activewear.  

Dunne’s social media stardom began by publicizing her lavish life as an NCAA gymnast, collecting more than 3.8m Instagram followers and 3.5 million more on TikTok.  

Her social media ventures were initially not allowed to bring in profit because of the NCAA’s strict policy about its members selling sponsorships.

That all changed in June 2021 when the organization altered its rules to allow athletes to make money from NIL deals.

Within a month Dunne inked a deal with Endeavor Talent Agency’s WME Sports, and she agreed a partnership with activewear brand Vuori – which Forbes reported was worth ‘mid-six figures’ last year.

But could her influence change? College sports leaders asked for a federal law to bring uniform regulation to the way athletes can earn money from their fame via sponsorship and endorsement deals.

A congressional hearing to tackle ‘NIL chaos’ was held this week. 

Dunne has created her wealth by posting sponsored ads on her social media pages

Accompanied with snaps showing off her body

Dunne has created her wealth by posting sponsored ads on her social media pages accompanied with snaps showing off her body

Jake Paul

Boxer or YouTuber? The question that is still asked.

The controversial YouTuber-turned boxer first appeared on the now non-existent platform Vine and he used his channel to transform from social media hit to landing punches in the boxing ring.

He started producing content in 2013, before switching to YouTube, while also starring in Disney show Bizaardvark.

Paul, 26, was charged with criminal trespass and unlawful assembly – both misdemeanors – for looting an Arizona mall during Black Lives Matter protests in June 2020.

Just weeks later he found himself in hot water with the city of Calabasas after throwing a massive rager during the COVID-19 pandemic when California state was under stay-at-home orders. He was also quoted as calling the pandemic ‘a hoax.’

The controversial YouTuber-turned boxer Jake Paul first appeared on the platform Vine

The controversial YouTuber-turned boxer Jake Paul first appeared on the platform Vine

Paul was part of Disney show Bizaardvark

Paul has transformed into a prime boxing athlete

Paul has gone through a massive body transformation since his first days as a TV star 

His home was then raided by the FBI in August of the same year in connection with the Arizona riot. 

‘I’m not afraid to admit it,’ he told DailyMail TV. ‘I was going down this like weird dark path that’s like a Hollywood young teenage star and it wasn’t good. It was going to be a dead end.’

Paul decided to go solo, leaving the TV series midway through the second season as his YouTube content attracted more and more attention. It now has more than 20 million subscribers with his music videos – he linked up with Team 10 – giving him massive exposure. One has an eye-popping 295 million views.

The 26-year-old now has 22.5m Instagram followers as he juggles his social media responsibilities with boxing fights.

He first appeared in the ring on the undercard of his brother Logan Paul’s bout with KSI (more on him later) in an amateur white-collar card in 2018. The inexperienced fighter secured a fifth-round technical knockout victory to launch a pro career in the sport.

The YouTube sensation teamed up with high-profile promoter Eddie Hearn for his pro debut and once again he came out on top in Miami.

Paul ended his TV career due to popularity of content

Paul has stepped into the world of professional boxing

From Disney T star to YouTuber and now professional boxer, Paul has come a long way

After making a name for himself in both worlds, the opponents got bigger and bigger. He secured a knockout win over ex-NBA player Nate Robinson on Mike Tyson’s undercard, and a victory over MMA fighter Ben Askren followed.

Both careers were going well and they complemented each other. Before 2022 was up he beat MMA star Tyron Woodley and UFC legend Anderson Silva.

The American did suffer defeat by Fury’s younger brother Tommy via split decision this year but claims he won $31m from the matchup in Saudi Arabia.

Critics blasted the fight for ruining the professionalism of boxing after the YouTuber turned to the sport at the age of 23 as online sensations try to become athletes.

But Paul could face Fury again with a rematch clause in the contract. 

Why would he stop when he continues to make both his social media channels and boxing a success?

Cavinder twins

Haley and Hanna Cavinder’s March Madness run may be over, but their roles in the hugely popular college basketball tournament have only heightened their popularity.

The twins were at the forefront of NIL deals among college athletes when the NCAA changed its rules, immediately signing deals with Boost Mobile and SixStar ProNutrition.

The NCAA continues to bar schools from paying athletes directly but the organization caved to outside pressure by lifting NIL restrictions two years ago. 

What was envisioned as a way for college athletes to make some pocket money based on their celebrity has turned into bidding wars for top recruits and transfers who can command millions for their services. 

But Haley and Hanna, 22, followed by 4.5m on TikTok, have made the most of the opportunity.

Haley and Hanna Cavinder (pictured) leveraged their 4.5 million TikTok followers into a new deal with Boost Mobile when the NCAA changed its rules on endorsements in 2021

Haley and Hanna Cavinder (pictured) leveraged their 4.5 million TikTok followers into a new deal with Boost Mobile when the NCAA changed its rules on endorsements in 2021

The Cavinder girls are collegiate twins making waves on and off the NCAA floor

The Cavinder girls are collegiate twins making waves on and off the NCAA floor

They celebrated the Sweet 16 March Madness victory over No. 1 Indiana, sharing celebrations

They celebrated the Sweet 16 March Madness victory over No. 1 Indiana, sharing celebrations

The Cavinder girls have locked in endorsement deals with Victoria’s Secret Pink, Boost Mobile, Champs Sports, Leaf trading cards and Intruit TurboTax. 

The duo’s NIL value is $851,000 each, according to On3, while they are ranked 32nd and 33rd overall in the list of college sports highest earners. 

The pair inked an NIL deal with artificial intelligence company Caktus AI, like Dunne, but the University of Miami did get stung for NIL violations. 

The athletic department is on probation for one year after the school and NCAA said women’s basketball coaches inadvertently helped arrange impermissible contact between a booster and the social media influencers. 

Hanna and Haley were not punished but addressed the matter on their joint TikTok platform, saying: ‘Dear NCAA, scared that female athletes have value?’

WWE has started linking up with college stars and the Cavinder twins were among the chosen ones. 

Although they share TikTok, Instagram and YouTube profiles the twins also hold their own individual Instagram and Twitter accounts.

Haley’s personal Instagram account is followed by over 620,000 while Hanna has more than 610,000 followers, and their join account is followed by 176,000.  

The twins vlogged (video-blogged) their journey of Miami’s Cinderella run on their YouTube platform with close to 87,000 subscribers – with part two to come. 

The twins are two of the most recognizable student-athletes at Miami

Both Hanna and Haley post photos of their glamorous outfits, alongside basketball snaps

Both Hanna and Haley post photos of their glamorous outfits, alongside basketball snaps

The Cavinder girls have locked in multiple endorsement deals at the age of just 22 years old

 The Cavinder girls have locked in multiple endorsement deals at the age of just 22 years old

The Cavinder twins frequently post photos from the basketball court

The social media influencers attended New York Fashion Week in Manhattan earlier this year

The twins, who attended attended New York Fashion Week, post photos from basketball court

Rachel Stuhlmann 

Former tennis player Stuhlmann, 31, has drawn comparisons to Spiranac and she has even admitted the golf online sensation has ‘inspired’ her.

The influencer was ranked 68th in her class and 59th nationally by the Tennis Recruiting Network before her collegiate career with the University of Missouri in 2010.

But she never wanted to pursue a professional career in the sport due to the demands of the tour. 

Instead, she opted for the world of influencing and is building her social media image.

Ex-tennis player Rachel Stuhlmann, 31, shares snaps of herself in tiny shorts and low-cut tops

She is is building her social media image and has drawn comparisons to Spiranac

Ex-tennis player Rachel Stuhlmann, 31, shares snaps of herself in tiny shorts and low-cut tops. She is is building her social media image and has drawn comparisons to Spiranac

She never wanted to pursue a professional career in the sport due to the demands of the tour

She opted for the world of influencing

 She never wanted to pursue a professional career in the sport due to the demands of the tour

She shares pictures of herself wearing tiny skirts and shorts with low-cut tops on the tennis court and even produced her own calendar for 2023.

Her Instagram account has 283,000 followers while her TikTok page – featuring tennis tutorials – has attracted 58,900 fans. 

Stuhlmann told the New York Post in September: ‘I really like what she does in golf and so that’s what I’m trying to do in tennis. 

‘I feel like I’ve been inspired for a while by Paige Spiranac. I respect her so much for what she’s done for the game.’

In a few years’ time she may well have created a very similar successful business model.   

Her Instagram account has 283,000 followers

While her TikTok page has attracted 58,900 fans

Her Instagram account has 283,000 followers while her TikTok page has attracted 58,900 fans

Ryan Reynolds, Rob McElhenney… and Ben Foster

Of course the Hollywood actors are not famous for their social media work.

But the American stars have even got in the act of late by coaxing soccer player Ben Foster out of retirement.

Not that they used social media to do that but the signing is perhaps an indication that they are aware how the former Premier League goalkeeper could be a influencing tool to boost Wrexham’s profile.

Foster was pictured with his Go-Pro camera in goal during his successful debut for the English tier-5 side last weekend.

Since his initial retirement, the 39-year-old star has hosted ‘Fozcast – The Ben Foster Podcast’, which boasts 175,000 YouTube subscribers.

Former Premier League goalkeeper Ben Foster poses for a photo with actor Ryan Reynolds

Former Premier League goalkeeper Ben Foster poses for a photo with actor Ryan Reynolds

Foster has been coaxed out of retirement to play for Reynolds and Rob McElhenney's Wrexham

Foster has been coaxed out of retirement to play for Reynolds and Rob McElhenney’s Wrexham

The content he produces will now give an insight into the team, growing his and the club’s profile. 

His move until the end of the season comes just a month after Tottenham failed to lure Foster to London as cover for injured goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.  

If Foster really missed the game a move back to the Premier League made the most sense, right?

Foster was pictured with his Go-Pro camera in goal during his successful debut last weekend

Foster was pictured with his Go-Pro camera in goal during his successful debut last weekend

Foster has since admitted that his wages are ‘peanuts’ and that he couldn’t wait to meet Reynolds.

‘Apparently Ryan (Reynolds) is going to give me a call later today! Van Wilder is one of my favourite films! Buzzing to talk to him later. They (owners Reynolds and McElhenney) are so prevalent at the football club, they are always there. it’s not like a plaything, they want to be a part of it,’ he said.

The robryanredpod account on TikTok was soon to post a clip after Foster’s debut while the video hosting service already has a sponsorship deal with the actors’ club. 

It seems as if Reynolds, McElhenney and Foster don’t want to be left behind when it comes to social media. 

P.S. KSI 

As promised, KSI – real name Olajide Olatunji – was arguably one of the original influencers. 

The British YouTuber garnered over 30 million subscribers across his two channels to which he shared gaming videos from his bedroom before branching out to ‘vlogs’ and comedy clips, landing him thousands.

British YouTuber KSI - real name Olajide Olatunji - was arguably one of the original influencers

British YouTuber KSI – real name Olajide Olatunji – was arguably one of the original influencers

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