Sorry, but this map doesn't show your state's 'favorite' athlete

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Sorry, but this map doesn't show your state's 'favorite' athlete
(Image credit: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

LeBron James is the most popular athlete in about half of all U.S. states. Or rather, he is if this map is to be believed:

The above map, from Best Tickets, purports to show who is the "most popular athlete" in every state. And much of the initial coverage of the geographical infographic parroted the claim.

While the map is interesting — Hawaii loves Manti T'eo? — it doesn't quite show each state's true favorite athlete. That's because the map's results are based on Google search traffic, which doesn't necessarily signify fandom.

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For instance, I loathe Alex Rodriguez but often search his name, if only to chuckle at his affinity for centaurs. And I don't care one way or the other about Prince Fielder, but I run boolean searches on him now and again to revisit his laughable antics like this, this, this, and, of course, this:

Prince Fielder does not know how to slide, but he knows how to entertain.

And just look at Ohio. It's possible the state still loves James even though he bailed on Cleveland for Miami. But I'd bet a bunch of those searches weren't for "LeBron James fan club" but rather for "LeBron James" and "voodoo doll."

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