Ohio is home to six professional sports franchises, along several Division I college programs. The state has a rich history of producing top-tier athletes.
But which athletes from Ohio are among the most well-known in the nation? Who are the biggest names in the state as it gets prepared for Ohio sports betting sites to debut on Jan. 1?
BetOhio.com utilized AhRefs.com, Keywords Explorer and Google trends to look at the most searched Ohio athletes over the past 12 months. Once finding the statistics, we determined the Top 10 most well-known athletes from Ohio.
Here is our list.
Breaking Down the Top 10 List
It’s no surprise that two of the NBA’s biggest superstars top the list. LeBron James, a four-time MVP, has won four NBA titles in his career with three different teams (Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat, Los Angeles Lakers) and is overall one of the most well-known celebrities on the planet. James no doubt will entice state residents to wager on his games on Ohio sportsbook apps.
James and fellow Akron-born superstar Steph Curry (No. 2 on the list) met in the NBA Finals in four consecutive seasons from 2015-2018, with Curry leading the Warriors to three titles. Curry, a two-time MVP, also led the Warriors to a championship last season and was named the NBA Finals MVP. The duo would've surely been favored to lead this category had an operator like PointsBet Ohio released odds.
Elsewhere in the NBA, guard CJ McCollum went viral during his high school hoops days at Canton’s GlenOak High School when he played on the varsity team as a freshman. McCollum is currently in his 11th season, having spent the last year-plus with the New Orleans Pelicans and the previous 10 with the Portland Trail Blazers. He was the NBA’s Most Improved Player in 2016.
On the football side, Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson grew up in Virginia but was born in Cincinnati. Wilson spent the first 10 seasons of his career with the Seattle Seahawks, winning one Super Bowl. Wilson is No. 3 on the list, which could be due to his disappointing first year in Denver. The Broncos, who in the preseason were +240 to win the AFC West with a win total of 10.5, have underachieved more than any team in the NFL this season with a 3-7 record. Wilson is ranked 28th in QBR, has thrown just seven touchdowns and Denver has the NFL’s lowest-scoring offense (14.7 points per game).
In fact, the Broncos are among the longest odds to win the Super Bowl at DraftKings, which lists them at +50000, tied with the Pittsburgh Steelers at +5000, tied for 28th among 32 NFL teams.
Look for BetMGM Ohio bonus codes heading into 2023, along with other sportsbooks.
No. 4 Ben Roethlisberger played his high school and college (Miami) football in Ohio before an 18-year career with the Pittsburgh Steelers that included a pair of Super Bowl titles (2005, 2008).
Tight end Travis Kelce, No. 6 on the list, also played high school and college (Cincinnati) football in Ohio. He’s currently in his 10th season with the Kansas City Chiefs and is on pace for an 8th Pro-Bowl nod. Kelce won a Super Bowl with the Chiefs in 2019. This season, he leads the NFL with 11 touchdown catches and is sixth in receiving yards (855) and tied for fifth in receptions (69).
Gymnast Simone Biles came in at No. 5. Biles, who was born in Columbus, is considered one of, if not the greatest gymnast of all time. She’s won seven Olympic medals and 25 World Championship medals.
Jack Nicklaus, who was born in Columbus and played at Ohio State, is No. 9 on the list, despite retiring from pro golf in 2005. “The Golden Bear” won 18 major championships in his career, the most ever by any golfer. He had 73 career PGA Tour victories.
On the diamond, Major League Baseball’s Hit King, Pete Rose, is No. 8 on the list. Rose, a 17-time MLB all-star, won three World Series titles during his career and collected the most hits in league history (4,256). He is not in the Hall of Fame due to being banned from baseball for gambling on games. Rose has been in the news recently after it was announced he’d make the first bet at the new Hard Rock Sportsbook in Cincinnati when the state launches sports gambling Jan. 1. He also wrote a letter to MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred earlier this month apologizing for the gambling scandal with hopes of Hall of Fame consideration.
Kyle Schwarber grew up in Greater Cincinnati in Middletown, Ohio. He won a World Series with the Chicago Cubs in 2016 and has been an all-star each of the last two seasons with the Boston Red Sox (2021) and Philadelphia Phillies (2022). He led the National League with 46 home runs.
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