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Social media giant Cristiano hits 100m FB ‘likes’

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RONALDO-RODRIGUEZNEW YORK, October 15- Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo has been burning up the pitch with 18 goals in the 14 games he started this season.

The two-time FIFA player of the year is on a tear with 13 goals already in just six La Liga games. Ronaldo is also a social media superstar and Tuesday he became the first athlete to reach 100 million Facebook likes.

The only person before him to reach that lofty level was pop superstar Shakira. Musicians Eminem (96 million) and Rihanna (90 million) are the next two poised to hit nine figures on Facebook.

Ronaldo posted a video on his Facebook page thanking his fans for the milestone.

“I’m so honored to have reached 100 million likes on Facebook. It’s amazing to achieve this incredible milestone and connecting with all the fans around the world. Their outstanding support inspires me and I thank them all,” said Ronaldo in a statement.

Ronaldo’s closest rival on the pitch, Lionel Messi, also has the second most Facebook fans among athletes with 74 million.

Messi ranks ninth overall among all people. The two superstars’ clubs have the most Facebook fans of any sports teams with 77 million (Barcelona) and 75 million (Real Madrid).

The most popular active American athlete is LeBron James with nearly 22 million likes (retired NBA legend Michael Jordan has 27 million). Ronaldo and Messi’s massive followings speak to the role of soccer as the global game.

Ronaldo’s most popular post on Facebook with 3.4 million likes was a photo with his son celebrating Children’s Day.

He kept fans updated on the Portugal team at the World Cup this summer using Facebook with posts ranging from a photo of the national team to a shot posing with a watermelon carved with his likeness.

Ronaldo uses Facebook to give fans a glimpse into the world of the biggest star in the biggest sport in the world such as dinner out with his supermodel girlfriend Irina Shayk or the two on vacation together.

Ronaldo was the second highest paid athlete in the world between June 2013 and June 2014 with $80 million in pre-tax earnings, including $52 million from salary and bonuses, as well as $28 million in endorsement income.

Endorsement partners like Nike, Tag Heuer, Emirates and Samsung Electronics receive incredible exposure from the reach of Ronaldo’s social media network.

Ronaldo has the biggest Twitter following of any athlete with 30.5 million, or 10 million more than Brazilian soccer player Kaka, who ranks second.

This photo posted on Facebook of Ronaldo’s Nike Mercurial Superfly soccer cleat racked up more than two million likes and 42,000 comments.

Ronaldo’s Facebook posts since 2009 have collectively generated 232 million likes and nearly 10 million comments.

-Forbes

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