REVEALED: Travis Kelce gained the second-most Instagram followers among sports stars in 2023 amid his Taylor Swift romance, while LSU’s Angel Reese came third… but who beat the Chiefs star to the crown?

Kelce and Taylor Swift’s relationship earned the NFL star 3.69m new followers
But the Chiefs star was beaten to the crown of most new followers by one person

Travis Kelce’s Instagram following jumped by more than three million in 2023, owing to his relationship with Taylor Swift.

The Kansas City Chiefs tight end has been at the summit of the NFL for a number of years and, as a result, enjoyed a huge level of fame.

But his relationship with Swift and her presence at his Chiefs games in recent months have taken Kelce into the stratosphere in terms of publicity and he is reaping the rewards.

New data produced by Sportico unearthed five athletes who enjoyed a social media breakout in 2023 by gaining in excess of two million Instagram followers each.

One of those is Kelce, who had already enjoyed a rise of around 500,00 Instagram followers after the Chiefs won the Super Bowl in Arizona in February 2023.

NFL star Travis Kelce ‘s Instagram following jumped by more than three million in 2023

The Chiefs tight end’s stardom has skyrocketed thanks to his relationship with Taylor Swift

Kelce and Swift were captured smooching as they saw in 2024 together

But that was nothing compared to what was about to happen. His follower count was just under 3,000,000 before Swift arrived at her first Chiefs game, a win over the Chicago Bears in September.

The growth comes despite Kelce producing one of his most disappointing seasons on the pitch for the Chiefs.

However, they are in the playoffs and host the Dolphins on Saturday night. A Super Bowl run, which Swift could attend in Las Vegas, would threaten to take Kelce to another level of stardom.

Kelce’s following is still miniscule in comparison to his girlfriend’s, though. Swift is the 12th-most followed person on Instagram with a ludicrous 279million fans.

Despite the army of Swifties hitting the follow button on Kelce’s account, there was somebody else who gained more followers than him in 2023.

That would be baseball sensation Shohei Ohtani – who recently signed a mammoth $700million, 10-year contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Japanese star was baseball’s top free agent this offseason and is the sport’s first true two-way star since Babe Ruth.

Shohei Ohtani signed a mammoth $700million, 10-year contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers
Ohtani gained 5.33m Instagram followers in 2023 after another phenomenal year for him

His contract was a new record deal for MLB – shattering the total paid by his old team to Mike Trout in 2019, which was worth $426.5m. Mookie Betts, Ohtani’s Dodgers teammate has a $365m contract while Aaron Judge with the Yankees is now fourth on the all-time list at $360m.

Ohtani’s popularity both in North America and Asia was evident when his Dodgers jersey broke a long-held record on the sports apparel and memorabilia site Fanatics.

There, he broke the site’s record for the most jerseys sold in a 48-hour period – surpassing records previously set by Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Additionally, Ohtani’s signing with the Dodgers helped them become the most followed baseball team on Instagram – just surpassing the New York Yankees.

But he’s also profited individually, too. Ohtani gained 5.33m Instagram followers in 2023.

Before his record-breaking move, he won a second AL MVP award after hitting 44 home runs last season. He also went 10-5 with a 3.14 ERA on the mound.

He also struck out Trout as Japan beat the USA in the final of the 2023 World Baseball Classic in March. In that month alone, his follower count went from around 2m to 5m.

LSU basketball’s Angel Reese enjoyed a breakout when leading the Tigers to the national title
Below Kelce in third was LSU basketball star Angel Reese.

She started 2023 with a mere 116,000 followers but her breakout came when leading the Tigers to the national championship.

Reese averaged 23 points and 15 rebounds on the season and famously taunted rival Caitlin Clark in a heated title game.

LSU’s 102-85 victory over Clark’s Iowa was the most-viewed NCAA women’s basketball game on record, with 9.9m viewers on ABC and ESPN2 according to fast national numbers by Nielsen.

Reese’s following toppled a million after her national success and her fame continued to soar thanks to her off-court antics.

During the offseason, she starred in a Sports Illustrated swimsuit spread, appeared in a Cardi B music video and became Rebook’s first signed athlete under Shaquille O’Neal.

Carlos Alcaraz got a Wimbledon boost last summer
Victor Wembanyama was a star before he stepped foot on a NBA court
Fourth on the list is tennis sensation Carlos Alcaraz. Despite winning the US Open in 2022, the Spaniard exploded last year and earned himself 2.32m new followers.

Alcaraz beat Novak Djokovic in the Wimbledon final in a five-set epic on Center Court and it was thanks to his success in London that his following grew so much.

He gained over a million new followers in the three days between the semi-finals and the day after the final.

The fifth and final athlete included on the list is NBA rookie Victor Wembanyama.

The 7-foot-4 Frenchman is currently in the midst of his first professional season after being drafted by the San Antonio Spurs.

The hype around him and his height drew in 2.5m followers before he’d even played a single second in the NBA.

He’s now up to 3.4m but the Spurs are struggling and Wembanyama will be fully focused on helping to turn the tide on the young side’s disappointing season so far.