Brazil is known for its beaches, the Carnival and, of course, soccer. Data on descriptive pages dedicated to biographies on Wikipedia proves how the sport is a symbol of the country. Pantheon, a project by The MIT Media Lab, shows that, within the country’s 100 most viewed people pages, 60 are of soccer players. If other sports are considered, such as race car driving and tennis, the number goes up to 69. Within the top 50, 31 are footballers. The data considers the total number of page views across all Wikipedia language editions from January 2008 to December 2013.
With more than 38 million page views, Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima, commonly known as Ronaldo, occupies the first position of the list. He is a retired professional soccer player who used to play as a striker. Popularly dubbed “O Fenômeno” (The Phenomenon), Ronaldo played for Barcelona, Real Madrid, Inter Milan, among others, and is considered one of the greatest footballers of all time.
Other players also rank in the top 5: Ronaldinho Gaúcho, Neymar Júnior, Kaká and Pelé, the oldest of the five, who began playing in 1955 and won three World Cups. Besides athletes, the list features a few politicians, models and writers.
The Pantheon data set contemplates all individuals that have presence in more than 25 different language editions of the Wikipedia by May 2013. Compared to personalities from other countries, Brazilians are significantly young in average and poor in page views.
Brazilians are generally young and have less than 40 million page views.
Americans are mainly born in the late 20th century and beginning of 2000s too, but have substantially more page views than Brazilians.
The person with the most views in all time (145 million) is, in fact, from the United States: Michael Jackson.
Within the older personalities, Jesus is one the most famous. He has 60 million pageviews.
Their occupation also differs. While Brazilians are mainly known because of sports, the majority of the U.S. list is categorized as part of the Arts and entertainment industry.
Gender is also different in both ranks. Brazil’s list has only 4 women, while 17 women appear in the U.S. top 50.
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While Brazil has a concentration of athletes in its rank, America has only two sports people in its list: the basketball player Michael Jordan and the wrestler John Cena. The United States’ most searched individuals are generally singers and actors, which reinforces the global impact of the American entertainment industry.
Michael Jackson, who ranks in first place, is followed by Barack Obama, Eminem, Lady Gaga and Miley Cyrus. Selena Gomez, Johnny Depp, Steve Jobs and Angelina Jolie also sit in the top 10. Compared to Michael Jackson, the Brazilian top 1 Ronaldo has only 26% of the singer’s page views.
Gender-wise, the two countries are also very different. Only four women appear in Brazil’s rank, three of which are models—the other is former President Dilma Rousseff. The United States, on the other hand, shows 17 women in the top 50, who actually have a higher average number of page views than American men (62 against 57 million).
This shows how Brazil is still known for its stereotype as the “soccer country” and is predominantly represented by men, despite the many women doing significant work and impacting the country—and the world—in a positive way.
Data is from the Pantheon, a project developed by the Macro Connections group at The MIT Media Lab that's collecting, analyzing, and visualizing data on historical cultural popularity and production. This piece considered a data set with 11,341 individuals from all countries that have presence in more than 25 different language editions of the Wikipedia by May 2013. The total numbers refer to page views across all Wikipedia language editions from January 2008 to December 2013.
Yu, A. Z., et al. (2016). Pantheon 1.0, a manually verified dataset of globally famous biographies.