Who is the Most Popular Person in the World Right Now, and Why?

It didn’t take me long to realize that this question would drag me down a rabbit hole of research. What began with a quick Google search, “who is the most famous person in the world 2019,” extended to several hours of reviewing global social media statistics, sorting through endless pictures of Selena Gomez and Kim Kardashian, and pondering why I’m so far out of the celebrity loop.


Source: https://giphy.com/gifs/8vlXrKEkHeQCY


Rather than scrolling through a list of all the celebrities I’ve heard the most about, I took some time to think about what the word “popularity” really means. If you’re wondering, “popularity definition” in your Google search will tell you that it is “the state or condition of being liked, admired, or supported by many people.” This search was followed by “fame definition,” which pulled up: “the state of being known or talked about by many people, especially on account of notable achievements.” Congratulations, Captain Obvious, you now know the definition of two very common words. Woop woop, applause, I guess? 

Source: https://giphy.com/gifs/snl-saturday-night-live-season-44-nl-wIbt13SnhUL954SVIc


All of this seems like a big “duh,” but it changed the way I was thinking about this question, and therefore, the way I went about finding the answer. Fame is to be known by many, regardless of a positive or negative reputation, while popularity is being known by many–and also liked by many. 

So, I guess that means Donald Trump is out of the popularity equation. 

Don’t believe me? Here’s a screenshot from FiveThirtyEight, a site that uses a methodical polling system to gauge his popularity:

Here’s a link to this page to see for yourself (it’s updated regularly!): https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/trump-approval-ratings/

If we were to ask who is the most famous, I’d probably say it was him. But we’re talking about public acceptance and likes.

Oh, right. Likes.

I turned to social media as a way to help me gauge popularity for two reasons: one, it’s a surefire way to have a look at what everyone else is looking at all over the world; and two, social media platforms make it really, really easy for people to share whether or not they like something. There’s, you know, an actual button for it. Kind of insane, if you think about it. 

Source: https://giphy.com/gifs/noqUFXGNuZDLG

According to a lot of different sources (and I mean, a lot), Facebook is the leading social media platform in the world, with a whopping 2.23 billion active users. Two. Point. Two. Three. Billion. (This statistic can be found here: https://buffer.com/library/social-media-sites) That’s a lot of people. So how does this help our search? We can find the leading number of likes on the leading social media site. Using this massive platform as a cornerstone for the search, I think we’ve found our guy. With over 122 million likes and nearly 121 million followers on Facebook, he is rated below only two pages: Facebook’s page (yeah, it has a page for itself!) and Samsung’s page. He’s rated highest not only on Facebook, but on Instagram, too. At a whopping 176 million followers, he beats Beyoncé by 47 million followers. He beats Selena Gomez by 23 million followers. He beats Donald Trump by 162.2 million followers. (By the way, I didn’t find this stuff on any statistic pages off Google, I searched them from my personal Facebook and Instagram accounts.) As of Monday, July 22, 2019, professional Portuguese football athlete Cristiano Ronaldo is the most popular person in the world. At least, on social media. Congrats, Cristiano, you’re killing it.