(Photo: Retuers/Mark Leffingwell/Eric Miller)
Forbes magazine included four Christian athletes in its top 10 list of the Most Influential Athletes of 2012 – among those listed were Tim Tebow, Manny Pacquiao and Jeremy Lin.
The publication created its list after working with Nielsen and E-Poll to survey over 1,100 adults about their favorite athletes. Although the list included 10 athletes in a variety of different sports, almost half of those highlighted have been vocal about their Christian faith in the last year.
Tebow, 24-year-old New York Jets quarterback, was listed as the second-most influential athlete on the Forbes list behind NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson. Tebow had an influential percentage of 24 percent, with 50 percent of the individuals polled saying they either "liked him" or "liked him a lot."
The publication described why the NFL star advanced on the publication's list after being featured at number 10 last year. According to Forbes, the "Tebowmania" phenomenon that came complete with an Internet meme could have something to do with the athlete's influence.
"'Tebowmania' unleashed – the QB shot up eight spots from last year after taking over as a starter in Denver," according to the Forbes article.
Manny Pacquiao, 33-year-old high-profile Filipino boxer and congressman who has earned eight world titles, trailed Tebow on the list at number four. With an influential percentage at 20 percent and 59 percent of the people surveyed saying they "like him" or "like him a lot."
"Likeable boxing champ is a king among the Philippine population," Forbes wrote about Pacquiao. "The contrast with boxing 'bad guy' Floyd Mayweather doesn't hurt."
Jeremy Lin, 24-year-old Christian point guard who plays for the New York Knicks, was placed on the list for the first time at number 10. Lin's influence was listed at 18 percent with 66 percent of those surveyed saying they "liked him" or "liked him a lot."
Forbes said despite the injury that Lin is attempting to rehabilitate, the "Linsanity" phenomenon sparked by his record-breaking performance still exists.
"A knee injury to the Knicks guard has 'Linsanity' down, but not out," Forbes wrote about the NBA player.
Last month, Pacquiao said he believed God was using he, Lin and Tebow to help save souls.
"Why Jeremy Lin? Why Tim Tebow? Why Manny Pacquiao," the boxer questioned an audience about the athletes' prominent statuses. "Because of the Lord, he wants us in his word. He uses famous people to bring in more."