Cristiano Ronaldo has more followers on Instagram than any other person — and it’s not even close. This week, as the 2022 World Cup opens in Qatar, Ronaldo hit 500 million followers on the platform, 120-plus million more than even his great football rival Lionel Messi, who is second on the list.
(Kylie Jenner is not far behind Messi — the supermodel and businesswoman takes the bronze medal in popularity with 372 million followers.)
Ronaldo celebrated the milestone with a compilation video and thanked his fans. And while no fan has helped the Portuguese scorer kick in a goal, it is true when he says, thanking his fans, that “together we’ve achieved so much.” They have to click “Follow,” after all. And they sure have.
Never one to shrink from the moment, Ronaldo has also taken advantage of the extra spotlight shined on him by the World Cup to orchestrate his departure from his main club, Manchester United of the English Premier League.
The club announced today that Ronaldo would officially be part of its history, but not its present or future. The Manchester United statement thanks Ronaldo for “his immense contribution across two spells at Old Trafford, scoring 145 goals in 346 appearances, and wishes him and his family well for the future.”
The fraught relationship between club and player came to a boil recently after Ronaldo told gadfly interviewer Piers Morgan that the club had betrayed him. He also expressed a certain lack of love for United manager Erik ten Hag.
Accused of potentially distracting his Portuguese teammates as they pursue World Cup glory, Ronald dismissed the idea, saying that they know who he is and that “I talk when I want.”
In other words, Ronaldo operates on his own time, which may be why he decided that today — the day of his official departure from Manchester United — was the day to announce his new watch company initiative.
Ronaldo announced the new collection, saying he was excited to share with 500 million followers the news that his new timepiece line is one “I co-designed with my dear friend @jacobarabo.”
The designer Jacob Arabo pals around with a lot of people who, like Ronaldo, keep their own time. See him below with the the musician and producer Pharrell, whom he calls a “genius.”
What will Ronaldo do next? All of Portugal, with its population of about 11 million, are hoping Ronaldo will get busy first with hat tricks in Qatar. And then there are 490 million other Ronaldo fans, too, who are eager to find out where he’ll be playing next. Ronaldo is 37 years old.