Poll: Derek Jeter Unseats Kobe Bryant as America’s Favorite Athlete

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Michael Heiman / Getty Images

Derek Jeter at Yankee Stadium on July 9, 2011, the moment he became the 28th player in baseball history to reach 3,000 hits.

LeBron James didn’t even make it on the list.

New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, who in July became the 28th slugger in baseball history to reach 3,000 hits in his career, is now America’s favorite athlete, according to a Harris poll. It’s quite an honor for an athlete who earlier this year was dubbed one of the “most overrated” players in baseball.

Since 2004, Jeter has been a comfortable Top Ten contender for the nationwide public opinion sport survey, but nabbed the top slot for the first time this year, dethroning Kobe Bryant and Tiger Woods as the nation’s sportsmen of choice. Bryant, who shared the top slot with Woods last year, slipped to third place in the 2011 poll, while Woods, due to this season’s less-than-stellar performance, sunk to no. 5.

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LeBron James, who ranked in sixth place in 2010, dropped off the Top Ten list entirely. Jeter has spent his entire Major League life playing for New York’s American League franchise, a career-long commitment that could have served Miami Heat’s James well had he stuck with his hometown team, the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The nation’s favorite female athlete is Serena Williams, who also earned the honor in 2010, 2009 and 2007. Her sister, Venus, ranked second.

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The top 10 favorite male athletes:

1. Derek Jeter
2. Peyton Manning
3. (tie) Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan
5. Tiger Woods
6. Tom Brady
7. (tie) Albert Pujols and Hines Ward
9. Derrick Rose
10. Aaron Rodgers

The top 10 favorite female athletes:

1. Serena Williams
2. Venus Williams
3. Danica Patrick
4. Maria Sharapova
5. Mia Hamm
6. Anna Kournikova
7. (tie) Martina Navratilova and Sue Bird
9. (tie) Kerry Walsh and Michele Wie

Click here for a full rundown of the poll’s methodology and even more stats.

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