If you’re reading this article, it’s probable that you’re a sports fan, so you don’t need anyone to tell you how important being a sports fan can be. Fandom manifests itself for different people in different ways, whether that’s season tickets, dedicated viewing from anywhere in the world, wearing jerseys in public, buying other memorabilia or any number of other ways. Fandom, however, is as prevalent amongst the rich and famous as it is amongst ordinary people. Even those with high-profile names and seven, eight and nine digit bank accounts can be consumed by passion for their favorite team, and in fact have the opportunity to use those assets to advance their passion for their teams in meaningful ways.
The ways in which the fandom of these famous figures have manifested itself run the spectrum from loyal attendance to writing books to promoting the team’s brand through publicly wearing jerseys or other team clothing to participating with the team in some way. The number one figure on the list even went so far as to buy his favorite team! Though these celebrities may have little in common with the day-to-day lives of other people, it’s nice to know that they feel the same elations and frustrations as the rest of us when it comes to their team of choice.
10. Gordon Ramsay (Chelsea FC)
Before becoming a famous TV chef, Gordon Ramsay’s first dream was actually to become a soccer player. At age 15, he even went on trial with his favorite team, Glasgow Rangers, before seriously injuring his knee and leaving behind his athletic aspirations. With ten different television shows, over twenty cookbooks and several Michelin stars to his name, there’s little question about whether he made the right career choice.
Now a fervent Chelsea supporter, he has not only been seen at games in Stamford Bridge on several occasions, but also instilled that same fandom into his son, Jack. His love for the team goes so deep, in fact, that he and David Beckham arranged for Jack and Beckham’s son Brooklyn to go on trial with the club in 2013. Loving a team and going to their games is one thing, but his desire to see his son achieve what he was unable to and join his new favorite team elevates Ramsay into the elite level of celebrity fandom.
9. Alyssa Milano (Los Angeles Dodgers)
While Milano is a huge sports fan in general, and also passionate about the New York Giants and Los Angeles Kings, the Dodgers remain her greatest passion. The actress developed a clothing line called Touch in 2007, marketed specifically to female baseball fans and has since expanded the line to include NFL items in 2008 and NASCAR items in 2013. Milano is a season tickets holder with the Dodgers, but most clearly demonstrated her fandom through her writing. Milano has written a blog for the MLB website for several years and wrote a book entitled Safe at Home: Confessions of a Baseball Fanatic, which focused on her love for the team.
8. Ice Cube (Oakland Raiders)
As a member of the iconic rap group NWA and a successful solo rapper in his own right, Ice Cube was instrumental in developing gangsta rap on the West Coast in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Synonymous with the rise of this movement, however, was the placement of Oakland Raiders memorabilia, especially with Ice Cube. The rapper was frequently seen, along with many of his Los Angeles counterparts, in Raiders hats, shirts and jackets, thereby irrevocably linking the Raiders’ tough team persona to their music itself. Now a well-known actor as well, Ice Cube moved behind the camera to channel his passion for the team and direct the documentary “Straight Outta L.A.” for ESPN’s 30 for 30 series, which focused on the links between gangsta rappers in the city and their love for the Raiders.
7. Rod Stewart (Glasgow Celtic)
Stewart has mentioned his love of Celtic in his 2012 book Rod: The Autobiography, the book Celtic United by Frank Worrall and his song “You’re in My Heart,” but it is his actions which speak most clearly to his intense fandom. Stewart has a training pitch on his estate and has hosted the team and allowed them to hold practices on his field on several occasions. Most famously, Stewart broke down in tears after Celtic’s historic victory against Barcelona in the Champions League in November of 2012. The game was especially meaningful for marking the team’s 125th anniversary and because of the unexpectedness of the team defeating Barcelona, who have won the Champions League three times since 2006. Stewart’s dedication to his team and uninhibited emotional outpouring mark him as a true fan in every sense of the word.
6. Drake (Toronto Raptors)
As a Toronto native who first entered the public eye as Jimmy Brooks, a physically disabled former high school basketball player on the Canadian TV show Degrassi: The Next Generation, Drake had already established his love for the city and the sport. Once his musical career took off though, it would have been understandable for Drake, like many other Canadian celebrities, to largely vacate the country and ignore his roots. Rather than permanently residing in the US or supporting a more successful team, however, Drake remained loyal to his hometown team and acted as a stalwart Raptors fan.
In September 2013, however, he took his fandom to the next level and officially became the team’s global ambassador. In his role, Drake will be in the city regularly to promote the team and will take part in the city’s upcoming role as host of the 2016 NBA All-Star Game. He is furthermore consulting on the team’s jersey and fashion choices, such as an upcoming retro jersey to mark the team’s 20th anniversary next season, and will be active in helping the team to recruit free agents. As one of the busiest figures in the music industry, Drake’s love and dedication to the team are clearly shown through his use of time and fame to help the team. While it remains to be seen whether his influence, and the team’s rising status within the Eastern Conference, can be enough to lure a superstar to Toronto, his role certainly marks him as a true fan and worthy of a spot on this list.
5. Stephen King (Boston Red Sox)
Arguably the most famous horror author in the world, King has published millions of books and had material turned into films from The Shawshank Redemption (seriously, if you’re reading this and have never seen it, just stop and go watch it right now, you can thank me later), the Green Mile and Stand By Me to The Shining, Carrie and It. While also a famous resident of Maine, after featuring his home state in several of his works, he frequently makes the time to travel to Massachusetts to attend Red Sox games in Fenway Park in Boston. King also sometimes travels to see them play road games as well.
King sometimes mentions the team in his books, but most notably displayed his passion by writing the non-fiction book Faithful with novelist and fellow Red Sox fanatic Stewart O’Nan, detailing their conversations and thoughts throughout the team’s World Series-winning 2004 season. Though less conspicuous in his attendance than other members of this list, choosing to sit midway up the stands to avoid media attention, his dedication to the team and intense love for them remain unquestionable.
4. Jack Nicholson (Los Angeles Lakers)
Nicholson is one of the greatest actors of all time, with twelve Academy Award nominations (a record for male actors) and three wins for One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Terms of Endearment and As Good as It Gets (tied with four others for second-most all time for an actor, behind only Katharine Hepburn with four). Nicholson is also one of just three actors, alongside Michael Caine and Sir Laurence Olivier, to receive nominations in five different decades. Nicholson’s Laker fandom has lasted just as long as his career, as he has held season tickets since 1970. Over the last twenty-five years, Nicholson’s seats have been courtside, making him almost as much of a staple at home Lakers games as the purple and gold jerseys they wear. While Nicholson has denied rumors that he negotiates his acting schedule around Lakers games, his passion is undeniably seen through his constant presence and instances of arguing with referees or opposing players, once even walking onto the court. Nicholson is therefore not only one of the greatest actors of all time, but also one of the greatest celebrity sports fans.
3. Spike Lee (New York Knicks)
Similarly to Nicholson in Los Angeles, Lee’s presence courtside at Knicks games at Madison Square Garden has become an ever-present part of the team’s home game experience. While some might say Nicholson is the bigger fan, I chose to list Lee above him primarily because of his legendary dispute with Indiana Pacers shooting guard Reggie Miller. On June 1st, 1994, Miller scored 39 points, including 25 in the fourth quarter alone, in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Final at Madison Square Garden against the Knicks. Miller and Lee engaged in an intense argument throughout the game, which culminated with Miller staring down Lee after making a shot in the fourth quarter and wrapping his hands around his own throat in a choking position, to indicate how he was choking the enthusiasm out of Lee and the team’s fans. Miller also tormented Lee again by scoring eight points in the last 8.9 seconds of Game 1 of the Pacers’ series against the Knicks to erase a six-point deficit and win their game. The rivalry between Lee and Miller was intense, but later forgiven. Lee gave Miller a cameo in his 1998 film He Got Game, and the two hugged during Miller’s last game at Madison Square Garden. Now immortalized in the 2010 ESPN documentary Winning Time: Reggie Miller vs. the New York Knicks, Lee’s status as a celebrity Knicks fan will outlast his fandom, making him one of the greatest of all time.
2. Billy Crystal (New York Yankees)
Billy Crystal has hosted the Oscars nine times, received several Emmy, Golden Globe and Tony nominations, won the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor in 2007 and starred in movies like When Harry Met Sally, City Slickers and Monsters Inc, yet his most treasured life accomplishment may be nothing to do with his show business career. Crystal is a lifelong Yankees fan who idolized Mickey Mantle as a kid. After having Mantle autograph a program at a Yankees game he attended, Crystal then got to meet Mantle on a daytime talk show appearance years later and have him autograph it again, starting a friendship that would last until Mantle’s death. Crystal then co-wrote Mantle’s eulogy and was the MC for the unveiling of Mantle’s statue at Yankee Stadium. On March 12th, 2008, Crystal cemented his reputation as a Yankees super-fan when he signed a one-day minor league contract with the Yankees. Crystal attended practice with the team, and the next day started the team’s spring training game against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the leadoff spot as the designated hitter. Crystal nearly got a hit, fouling a ball down the first base line, but eventually struck out and was substituted out for the rest of the game. Crystal nonetheless had the opportunity to live out his lifelong dream, making him the second greatest celebrity sports fan. Ironically, however, as a part-owner of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Crystal also won a World Series ring in 2001 after the team defeated his beloved Yankees in seven games. He’s also known as a huge Los Angeles Clippers.
1. Sir Elton John (Watford FC)
Not only a lifelong fan of his boyhood team Watford, who currently reside in the English Championship, Sir Elton John started as a vice-president with the team in 1973. He then acquired enough of the team to become majority owner from 1976-1987, and reacquired a large enough share to become majority owner in 1997, before returning to his status as a minority owner a few years later. When he originally bought the club, Watford had just been sent down to the lowly Fourth Division. After investing significant amounts of his personal funds and hiring manager Graham Taylor, however, Watford was not only able to rise all the way back to the First Division, but finish in second place in 1983 and then make the FA Cup Final in 1984. During this time, John was both chairman and director of the club, but even after selling his majority share, remained their honorary lifelong president. After taking such an active role in funding, developing and running his favorite club, Sir Elton John by far and away earned the title as the greatest celebrity sports fan. His legacy as a fan came not only on the sidelines, but as an architect of one of the team’s greatest eras and as the public face of the team for decades.