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Formula 1 vs NFL: Which Is the Bigger Sport?

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American football is one of the top sports in the USA — the national sport itself being baseball, according to several blogs on the internet — and the NFL generates bags of excitement for fans each week.

The league came into being when the American Football League and the National Football League merged in 1970, and the league took the name of the older one of the two.

Of course, the flagship game in the NFL is the Super Bowl, in which the winners of the American Football Conference and the winners of the National Football Conference face off against each other in January or February. 

The NFL isn’t the only sport that has attracted a large fanbase. Formula 1 also draws in a crowd as fans follow the drivers who are tearing around the international circuits in Grand Prix at hair-raising speeds.

Although many races had been held before, the world saw the first standardized racing championship in 1925. At the end of the 1949 season, there was an announcement that races would unite to create a Grand Prix World Championship for drivers in the Formula 1.

But which sport is bigger? Below is a look at this question, discussing value, fan bases and some of the biggest names in both sports.

The NFL: Value and Fanbase

The Super Bowl betting season is the biggest event in the US sporting calendar, and as the year edges towards its end, the NFL playoff odds are changing week to week as the drama intensifies. The teams themselves also do a massive amount to create value in the league.

According to sports website AS, the combined value of all 32 NFL teams is $142.87 billion, and business publication Forbes has reported online that the average value of an NFL team is now $5.2 billion. 

The league has worked hard to build its fanbase. A lot of this is thanks to media deals that increase coverage and streaming and generally make games more accessible for fans. Attendance at live games is popular too.

The website of consumer and market data company Statista reports that games witnessed an average attendance of 70,000 in 2022 and more than 18.8 million in 2022.

Formula 1 Record Comparison

There is big value in Formula 1 as well. F1 is part of Liberty Media, whose sports empire Forbes have named 2023’s biggest at $21 billion. The publication has also estimated F1’s ten teams to be worth $1.88 billion on average.

In terms of fans and attendance, F1 races also experience few empty seats. In 2021, 2.69 million fans attended race events. Three Grand Prix (Mexico, USA and Great Britain) enjoyed an attendance of more than 300,000. Globally, the TV audience per race meeting was an average of 70.3 million.

Formula 1 reported 49.1 million total followers on social media in 2021 as well. The organization believes that year it was the fastest growing major sports league in terms of follower growth. The fanbase is also thought to be becoming younger and more diverse.

The Biggest Names

Both sports have produced some household names who have amassed considerable fortunes thanks to their adventures in their sport. Patrick Mahomes, who serves as a quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs, is reported in Hello! online to boast a net worth of $70 million.

That pales in comparison to the net worth of Tom Brady, the man some consider the greatest player in NFL. The retired quarterback who served the New England Patriots so loyally and then the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is reported as holding a staggering net worth of $300 million. 

New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who moved from the Green Bay Packers to the New Yorkers, likewise enjoys a handsome net worth. His net worth of $200 million and annual salary of $37 million makes him one of the highest paid athletes in the world. 

Although net worth data is a little less easy to come by for Formula 1, it will come as little surprise that Red Bull driver is the highest paid of all the drivers at $55 million. In a profile updated in August 2023, Forbes places his earnings at $64 million. 

There is, however, more data around the net worth of Mercedes man Lewis Hamilton. The Brit is estimated to have an approximate net worth of $285 million. As well as his service on the track for his employers, Hamilton has undertaken ventures such as a clothing line, a vegan burger chain, a grocer delivery app and a drinks company. 

Both the NFL and F1 boast immense value and a legion of fans. Whereas team franchises in the NFL have a higher value than in F1 and players seem capable of amassing higher net worth, the F1 appears to take the edge in attendance and followers. This is likely because race revenues may accommodate more people.

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