The Most Famous Olympian: A Definitive Ranking of Olympic Legends

Choose the Athlete you think is the most famous!

Author: Gregor Krambs
Updated on Oct 3, 2023 11:19
Welcome to StrawPoll, where we celebrate the incredible achievements of the world's top athletes! We invite you to dive into our latest ranking, "Who is the most famous Olympian?" This exhilarating poll features a diverse lineup of legendary Olympians who have inspired generations with their unwavering dedication, awe-inspiring performances, and record-breaking accomplishments. But who stands above the rest in terms of fame and recognition? That's where you come in! Cast your vote for your favorite Olympian or suggest a missing contender who deserves to join this elite group. The fate of these sporting heroes lies in your hands, so get ready to make history as you participate in this ultimate showdown of athletic prowess and global stardom!

Who Is the Most Famous Olympian? (October 2023)

  1. 1
    Michael Phelps is a retired American swimmer who has won a total of 28 Olympic medals, including 23 gold medals, making him the most decorated Olympian of all time.
    Michael Phelps in other rankings
  2. 2
    Usain Bolt is a retired Jamaican sprinter who has won a total of 8 Olympic gold medals and holds the world record in the 100-meter and 200-meter dash.
    Usain Bolt in other rankings
  3. 3
    Jesse Owens
    Acme News Photos · Public domain
    Jesse Owens - an American track and field athlete who won four gold medals at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, Germany, breaking racial barriers and defying Hitler's notion of Aryan supremacy.
    Jesse Owens in other rankings
  4. 4
    Simone Biles is an American gymnast who has won a total of 30 Olympic and World Championship medals, including 19 gold medals, making her one of the most decorated gymnasts of all time.
    Simone Biles in other rankings
  5. 5
    Nadia Comăneci is a retired Romanian gymnast who became the first gymnast to score a perfect 10 at the Olympics, winning three gold medals at the 1976 Montreal Olympics.
    Nadia Comăneci in other rankings
  6. 6
    Carl Lewis
    Manfred Werner - Tsui · CC BY-SA 3.0
    Carl Lewis - an American track and field athlete who won 9 Olympic gold medals and set numerous world records in events such as the long jump and 100-meter dash.
    Carl Lewis in other rankings
  7. 7
    Paavo Nurmi
    Suomen Urheilumuseo · Public domain
    Paavo Nurmi is a Finnish middle-distance and long-distance runner who won a total of 9 Olympic gold medals in the 1920, 1924, and 1928 Olympics, setting numerous world records.
    Paavo Nurmi in other rankings
  8. 8
    Larisa Latynina is a retired Soviet gymnast who won a total of 18 Olympic medals, including 9 gold medals, making her one of the most decorated Olympians of all time.
    Larisa Latynina in other rankings
  9. 9
    Mark Spitz is a retired American swimmer who won a total of 9 Olympic gold medals and set numerous world records in the 1972 Munich Olympics.
    Mark Spitz in other rankings
  10. 10
    Emil Zátopek is a retired Czech long-distance runner who won a total of 4 Olympic gold medals in the 1948 and 1952 Olympics, setting numerous world records and revolutionizing the sport with his unorthodox training methods.
    Emil Zátopek in other rankings

Missing your favorite Athlete?


Ranking factors for famous Olympian

  1. Olympic Achievements
    The number of medals won, including gold, silver, and bronze, can play a significant role in determining the fame of an Olympian. Multiple gold medals or a record-breaking performance can elevate an athlete's status.
  2. Dominance in Sport
    Athletes who have consistently dominated their sport and achieved success over multiple Olympic Games are often considered more famous. Setting world records, winning multiple titles, or holding long-standing records can contribute to their fame.
  3. Global Recognition
    The level of global recognition an athlete enjoys is crucial. Factors such as media coverage, popularity in different countries, and fan following across nations contribute to an Olympian's fame.
  4. Longevity and Impact
    The lasting impact an athlete has had on their sport and the Olympic movement can add to their fame. Athletes who have inspired generations, brought attention to their sport, or made significant contributions beyond their athletic careers often receive higher recognition.
  5. Cultural and Social Influence
    The impact an Olympian has outside of their sport can also be a consideration. Athletes who have used their platform to promote social causes, become role models, or break barriers may gain additional fame.
  6. Overall Popularity
    The athlete's overall popularity, including factors like endorsements, social media following, and public perception, can gauge their fame. Fan support, charisma, and likability also contribute to an Olympian's recognition.
  7. It is important to note that fame is subjective and can vary across different periods, sports, and regions. Furthermore, the evaluation of an athlete's fame should consider both their achievements and their societal impact.

About this ranking

This is a community-based ranking of the most famous Olympian. We do our best to provide fair voting, but it is not intended to be exhaustive. So if you notice something or your favorite Athlete is missing from the list, feel free to help us improve the ranking.


  • 182 votes
  • 10 ranked items

Voting Rules

A participant may cast an up or down vote for each Athlete once every 24 hours. The rank of each Athlete is then calculated from the weighted sum of all up and down votes.

More information on most famous olympian

The Olympics have been a global phenomenon for over a century, featuring the world's most talented athletes competing in a wide range of sports. Throughout history, there have been many legendary Olympians who have captured the hearts and imaginations of sports fans around the world. From track and field to swimming, gymnastics to basketball, these athletes have demonstrated unparalleled skill and dedication to their craft. But who among them can truly be considered the most famous Olympian of all time? In this article, we will explore some of the most notable figures in Olympic history and delve into the factors that have made them such beloved and iconic figures in the world of sports.