Tim Tebow tops Forbes' most influential athletes list

By Matt Rybaltowski | CBSSports.com

Tim Tebow tops Forbes' annual list of most influential athletes in America. (USATSI)

Even in unemployment, Tim Tebow has significant branding power on Madison Avenue.

Last week, for instance, Tebow received an offer from the organization formerly known as the Lingerie Football League to become its national quarterbacks' coach hours after his release from the New York Jets. Days later, a Florida-based hurricane window protection company offered the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner a $30,000 contract to throw footballs at their window protection covers.

Then, in an effort to get Tebow back into the NFL, a group of Jaguars' fans filed a petition with the White House, asking President Obama to contact Jaguars general manager David Caldwell to offer the former University of Florida quarterback a spot on the roster.

On Monday, Tebow topped Forbes' list of America's Most Influential Athletes in 2013. The results were based on surveys of U.S. fans from Nielsen and E-Poll Market Research. Tebow, who has 2.2 million followers on his Twitter account, was deemed to be influential by 29 percent of respondents.

“For a backup quarterback to be talked about so much is incredible,” Stephen Master, a senior vice president of Sports for Nielsen, told Forbes. “But it is the biggest market.”

Athletes from the 2012 London Olympics comprised more than 30 percent of the magazine's top 10. Swimmer Michael Phelps (No. 2), an 18-time gold medalist, sprinter Usain Bolt (No. 3), the world-record holder in the 100 and 200-meters and gymnast Gabby Douglas (No. 7), the Women's individual all-around gold medalist in London, all received inclusion on the list.

Phelps, 27, surpassed former Soviet Union gymnast Larisa Latynina for most all-time medals in Olympics' history when he won a silver medal in London in the 200-meter butterfly. Phelps entered retirement after capping his Olympics with a gold in the 4 X 100 meter medley relay, his 22nd medal of all-time.

Phelps, who has taken up golf since his retirement from swimming, signed an endorsement with Ping in January. Bolt, a six-time gold medalist, won three gold medals in London, including one in the 400-meter relay in a world-record time of 36.84 seconds. Douglas, 17, became the first American female gymnast to win an individual all-around and team gold medal in the same Olympics.

Following her wins, Kellogg's announced that a box of Corn Flakes would include a picture of Douglas standing on the Olympic podium with a gold medal. In September, Douglas reached an agreement with Nintendo to be part of its advertisement campaign for the New Super Mario Bros. 2 video game.

Several other quarterbacks, Peyton Manning (No. 5), Drew Brees (No. 6) and Aaron Rodgers (No. 8) also earned spots on the list. Derek Jeter (No. 4), Lebron James (No. 9) and David Beckham (No. 10) rounded out the top 10.

Keep your eye on sports by following Matt Rybaltowski on Twitter @mattrybaltowski.

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