- The Cleveland Cavaliers player was ranked number one in a poll conducted by Harris Interactive
- LeBron was kicked off the list in 2012, after making the unpopular decision to leave the Cavaliers to join the Miami heat
- But after winning two championships with the Heat, he made it back onto the list in 2013 when he was ranked second to Michael Jordan
- This year he beat out Jordan, who continues to make the list every year despite having retired more than a decade ago
LeBron James has not only won back the hearts of Cleveland by rejoining the Cavaliers, but America as a whole according to a newly-released poll.
The survey, conducted by Harris Interactive, ranks the basketball MVP as the nation’s favorite athlete, knocking legend Michael Jordan off the number one spot.
Though Jordan hasn’t played basketball in more than a decade, he has remained in the top 10 every year.
Mr Popular: A new poll ranks LeBron James as America’s favorite professional athlete. Pictured above in 2010, during his original run with the Cleveland Cavaliers. He recently announced he would be returning to the Cavs after winning two championships with the Miami Heat
Everyone still likes Mike: LeBron may have replaced Jordan as America’s favorite athlete, but he’s still ranked number one among women and GenXers
Surprisingly, the survey was conducted before LeBron announced he would be returning to Cleveland, which means he may be even more popular now than the survey currently reflects.
LeBron was kicked out of the top 10 for an entire year in 2011, after making the then-unpopular decision to leave the Cavs to join the Miami Heat.
However, after winning back to back championships in 2012 and 2013, LeBron made it back onto the list and last year was ranked second.
The poll also included a list for favorite female sports athletes with tennis all-star Serena Williams topping the list. Her sister Venus was ranked number three with NASCAR driver and GoDaddy spokesman Danika Patrick in second place.
FAVORITE MALE SPORTS STAR
1. LeBron James
2. Michael Jordan
3. Derek Jeter
4. Peyton Manning
5. Kobe Bryant
5. Dale Earnhardt Jr
7. Tom Brady
8. Tiger Woods
9. Drew Brees
10. Aaron Rodgers
FAVORITE FEMALE SPORTS STAR
1. Serena Williams
2. Danica Patrick
3. Venus Williams
4. Maria Sharapova
5. Mia Hamm
6. Lindsey Vonn
6. Billie Jean King
8. Alex Morgan
8. Chris Evert
10. Misty May
Girl power: Tennis champ Serena Williams was ranked America’s most favorite female athlete. Serena exited early at Wimbledon (pictured above) this year, and was forced to forfeit in the doubles championship with her sister Venus (ranked number three on the list) when she contracted a viral illness
The survey revealed some interesting differences in who different Americans considered their favorite athlete. While men overall preferred LeBron James, women were bigger fans of Jordan.
Race also played a role, with white Americans choosing soon-to-retire New York Yankee Derek Jeter as their favorite athlete while Hispanics preferred LeBron. For African Americans, it was a toss-up between LeBron and Jordan.
Jeter was also the favorite athlete of older people, over the age of 68 and Republicans. Democrats, meanwhile, preferred Jordan and for Independents it was LeBron
Farewell: Derek Jeter may be retiring after this season, but he remains a favorite on the list. He ranked three overall, but was number one for older Americans, white Americans, Republicans and those who live on the East Coast. pictured above at the MLB All-Star game which took pace Tuesday
Millennials and Baby Boomers both agreed on their love of LeBron while Gen Xers ranked Jordan, who dominated the NBA during their childhood, as their favorite.
There were also differences regionally, with Americans in the Midwest and South ranking Lebron as their favorite, which is perhaps unsurprising considering he has played for teams in both regions.
Those in the West stayed true to Jordan and Jeter was number one for baseball-loving East Coasters.
FAVORITE SPORTS STARS AMONG DIFFERENT DEMOGRAPHIC GROUPS
Men – LeBron James
Women – Michael Jordan
White – Derek Jeter
African American – Tie between LeBron James and Michael Jordan
Hispanic – LeBron James
Millennials (ages 18-36) – LeBron James
Gen X (37-48) – Micheal Jordan
Baby Boomers (49-67) – LeBron James
Matures (ages 68+) – Derek Jeter
East – Derek Jeter
Midwest – LeBron James
South – LeBron James
West – Michael Jordan
Republican – Derek Jeter
Democrat – Michael Jordan
Independent – LeBron James