- Google’s2019 Year in Search reveals all of the trends we dug into using the popular search engine throughout the year – including athletes.
- Though the tool does not detail the most-searched topics of interest, it does track the searches that had a high spike in traffic over a sustained period in 2019 as compared to 2018.
- Stars who switched teams featured prominently on the top-trending athletes list, including Russell Westbrook, who was traded to the Houston Rockets, and Bryce Harper, who took his talents to the city of brotherly love.
- Players like Antonio Brown, Myles Garrett, Megan Rapinoe, and Zion Williamson made headlines both for their athletic prowess and for scandals that transcended the game.
- Check out Google’s top-10 trending athletes of the year below.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
10. Alex Morgan
Unsurprisingly, Google searches for Alex Morgan spiked during the 2019 World Cup in France. The US Women’s National Team star tied teammate Megan Rapinoe with six goals and four assists through six appearances on the sport’s biggest stage. She drew the attention – and, in some cases, ire – of the world when she celebrated her go-ahead goal in the World Cup semifinal against England by sipping a fake cup of tea.
She made headlines again in late October when she announced her pregnancy on social media, and naturally, she trended again – but to a lesser extent – on Google.
9. Melvin Gordon
The prolific Los Angeles Chargers running back trended on Google from late August to early September due in large part to his contract holdout, which began during the preseason and ended around Week 4 of the season. Since then, he’s averaged just over 50 rushing yards per game and has scored seven touchdowns through 11 appearances.
8. Zion Williamson
A Duke Blue Devil star-turned-New Orleans Pelicans first-round draft pick, Zion Williamson trended on Google intermittently throughout the 2018-2019 basketball season. The Spartanburg, South Carolina native’s first and most prominent spike peaked in late February when his Blue Devils took on their rival North Carolina Tar Heels. Less than a minute into the game, Williamson famously slipped and ripped his Nike sneaker open, injuring his knee in the process. Naturally, the consensus All-American and Wooden Award winner trended during the NCAA tournament in March, again when the Pelicans were given the first pick in the 2019 NBA draft, and once more when the franchise selected him with that first overall pick.
The second half of 2019 has been relatively quiet for Williamson, as he has yet to play in the NBA due to a nagging knee injury. Still, he trended a bit throughout October, when the NBA regular season first began.
7. Russell Westbrook
Russell Westbrook has been a household name in the NBA for years. Still, he trended far more this year than he did during the 2018 offseason thanks to a trade that sent him from the Oklahoma City Thunder – where he had spent the entirety of his 11-year career up until that point – to the Houston Rockets. The trade certainly shifted the landscape of the league by pairing Westbrook – the 2016-17 MVP – with James Harden, the prolific scorer who won the award the following season. Together, the duo has led the Rockets to the third-best record in the Western Conference heading into the new year.
6. Megan Rapinoe
It was only natural that US Women’s National Team star Megan Rapinoe trended on Google heading into the World Cup. Still, her meteoric rise was quite different from the attention her teammates garnered. The controversial, pink-haired striker drew the ire of President Donald Trump when, back in June, she was caught on video telling a journalist that she was not “going to the f—— White House” if the USWNT won the 2019 World Cup in France. Trump responded by suggesting that Rapinoe should “win before she talks,” and the prolific scorer answered by winning the Golden Ball and Golden Boot for her outstanding efforts in securing the USWNT’s fourth World Cup victory.
5. Myles Garrett
Browns defensive end Myles Garrett attracted the eyes of the entire sports world at the tail end of Cleveland’s 21-7 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers November 14. He and quarterback Mason Rudolph began jawing off and things escalated quickly, with Garrett resorting to ripping off Rudolph’s helmet and smashing it down over the rookie’s head. As a result, the NFL banned Garrett from playing for the remainder of the season. And even though Garrett alleged that Rudolph had ignited the brawl by calling him a racial slur, the Steelers QB did not miss any game time due to his involvement in the melee.
4. Andrew Luck
A product of Stanford, Andrew Luck was considered a generational quarterback prospect when he entered the NFL in 2012. But seven years of injuries and weak teams wore on the Indianapolis Colts star, leading to his sudden and shocking retirement announcement that came in August, mere weeks before the 2019 NFL season began. The 29-year-old trended on Google for a few weeks after the announcement, but searches reached their peak the day after his decision to step away from the gridiron went public.
3. David Ortiz
Although Boston Red Sox legend David Ortiz retired from professional baseball in 2016, he trended for a few weeks in June of this year after he was shot in a bar in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Ortiz was rushed to the hospital and underwent emergency surgery in his home country before the Red Sox organisation chartered a plane to transport their former star to Boston. Once there, he underwent a second procedure at Massachusetts General Hospital. He was discharged weeks after sustaining his injuries.
2. Bryce Harper
One of baseball’s brightest stars, Bryce Harper, entered 2019 as a free agent, and, naturally, his future landing spot was of significant interest to MLB fans across the country. In the end, the hard-hitting outfielder left the Washington Nationals and agreed to a 13-year, $US330 million deal with the Philadelphia Phillies on March 1. Search interest in Harper spiked leading up to and directly after he announced his decision.
1. Antonio Brown
You’d be hard-pressed to find an athlete who had a wilder year than Antonio Brown. After forcing his way out of Pittsburgh with a blockbuster trade in March, the prolific wide receiver landed in Oakland with the Raiders. There, he struggled to fall in line with the team after sustaining a frostbite-related foot injury, complaining about NFL helmet regulations, and accruing fines for missing practices. After several public displays of discontent with the team, Brown was released from the Raiders on September 7. Later that day, he signed a one-year deal with the New England Patriots, but rape allegations and leaked intimidation attempts cast scrutiny on Brown once again. On September 20, he was released. Unsurprisingly, Google searches for Brown surged from late August to early October.
Now check out the best plays of the year across all sports:
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