From basketball greats to football superstars, America is home to some of the world’s most iconic sportspeople. The states lucky enough to claim these homegrown heroes as their own are very proud to do so, but, which states are producing the most athletes who have played in the NFL, NBA, MLB or NHL?

Our latest research has analyzed key performance statistics for thousands of professional sportspeople across the NFL, NBA (and ABA), MLB and NHL, to determine which states are home to the most athletes overall, and from each league. The study also allowed us to find out who are the top-ranking athletes from each league, in every state.

*It’s worth noting, that we know there are several incredible professional female athletes from across America as well, however, this study looks only at those players who have played in the NBA, NFL, MLB and NHL.

The top states for professional athletes


Golden State by name and Golden State by nature, there must be something in the water in California, as it’s the state producing the most professional athletes across the whole of the US. A huge 5,599 sportspeople across the top four sports in America have all come from Cali, including Yankees royalty Joe DiMaggio and NFL superstar Tom Brady.

In second place is Texas, having produced 4,022 professional athletes, including the likes of star quarterback Patrick Mahomes and NBA icon Chris Bosh. Pennsylvania has ranked third, with 3,298 professional athletes having been born in the state.

This is followed by Ohio (2,898) and New York (2,753). Now is probably a good time to point out that Ohio is the home of the Kelce brothers, Jason and Travis. They really had their moment during the 2022/23 NFL season, which culminated in an Eagles versus Chiefs - or Kelce brother versus Kelce brother - Super Bowl. Having said that, Travis might have had an even bigger 23/24 season, what with the whole dating Taylor Swift thing and the small feat of winning back-to-back Super Bowls.

Top states for NFL players

Speaking of Super Bowls, we’ve created a ranking of the top American NFL players, looking specifically at weighted career approximate values (wAV) for over 8,000 players. This is calculated by taking 100% of the player's best-season approximate value (AV), 95% of their second-best-season AV, 90% of their third-best, and so on. We’ve then used this list to determine which states are the birthplace of the most NFL athletes.


Texas is home to the most NFL athletes of any state, having raised 2,645 of them. The top player from the Lone Star State is Von Miller, who currently plays as a linebacker for the Buffalo Bills.

California has once again graced a top-five ranking, coming in second, having been the birthplace of 2,672 pro football players. Patriots’ royalty Tom Brady is Cali’s finest NFL export, which is perhaps no surprise given he’s often regarded as the greatest quarterback of all time. In fact, Brady is first on our list of the top NFL players, and another Californian player, Aaron Rogers, is in third.

In third place is Florida, which is the home state of 1,723 NFL players. The Sunshine State’s top player is Matthew Stafford, who is the current quarterback for the LA Rams.

Ohio is in fourth (1,569) and Pennsylvania (1,511) is in fifth. When it comes to producing top NFL athletes, it’s the Northeastern states that aren’t doing well, with Vermont (10), New Hampshire (25), and Maine (27) all right down near the bottom of the list.

Top states for basketball players

From Michael Jordan to LeBron James, we’ve taken a closer look at which states have produced the most professional basketball players. Our study has analyzed total career points and the average points per game for over 4,000 players, each of which have either played in the NBA or ABA. We’ve then calculated exactly how many top NBA players were born in each state.


Looking at the top of the table, we’ve got a West Coast versus East Coast competition happening. The West has beaten the East by just a fraction, with California producing 443 professional ballers compared to New York’s 441.

It might be a case of quantity over quality here though, as New York has produced three of the top 10 best basketball players of all time. Chicago Bulls icon Michael Jordan is in second place on our list (which may be controversial to some), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is in fourth, and the legend that is Julius Erving ranks in eighth place. Meanwhile, California’s highest-ranking player is the LA Clippers’ James Harden, who is way down in 17th on the ranking.

Illinois has come in third on the list, having produced 302 professional basketball players, including former players Dan Issel and Dwayne Wade.

The home state of 250 NBA players, Pennsylvania ranks in fourth place. It’s the birthplace of two late NBA greats, Kobe Bryant and Wilt Chamberlain — the latter of which is third on the ranking of best-scoring NBA players. Texas rounds off the top five states producing the most basketball players, having raised 211 of them.

Despite being the home state of world-record points holder LeBron James, who has scored a mammoth 40,225 points across his career and come in first on our player ranking, Ohio is only in sixth place.

On the other end of the scale, the Northeast is clearly not the place to be for NBA players, with Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine only producing a couple of players between them.

Top states for MLB players

The MLB’s slogan is ‘I live for this,’ but which states live for baseball the most?

We’ve analyzed the key performance statistics for over 19,000 players. Yes, there have been that many MLB players in the US — but don’t forget, baseball has been around for a long ol’ time, since way before Babe Ruth even pitched his first ball. In particular, we’ve looked at wins above replacement (WAR) figures for both batters and pitchers. This is a single number which presents the number of wins the player added to the team, above what a replacement player would add. We’ve then calculated how many MLB players each state has produced.


Yet again California has taken the top spot, having produced 2,473 MLB players. Cali’s best is former left field player Barry Bonds, who played for the Pittsburgh Pirates and the San Francisco Giants. Considered to be one of the greatest players of all time, he’s the only MLB player to have at least 500 home runs and 500 stolen bases.

Pennsylvania has made it onto another top-five list, this time in second, having been the birthplace of 1,498 professional baseball players. Pennsylvania’s top player is baseball legend, Honus Wagner, who played almost entirely for the Pittsburgh Pirates between 1897 and 1917. Nicknamed ‘The Flying Dutchman,’ Wagner was one of the first five members inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

New York is in third, having produced 1,270 MLB players. Another old-school player, Eddie Collins, is New York’s top player, though the icon that is A-Rod has come in a very close second.

Homestate of 1,154 baseball players, Texas is in fourth place, and Illinois rounds off the top five states producing the most MLB players (1,130).

Looking toward the bottom of the table, the Northwestern states perhaps don’t offer the best climate for baseball players, with Wyoming, Montana, and North Dakota all ranking low on the list.

Top states for hockey players

You know the drill by now. For hockey, we’ve analyzed the total points scored (PTS) for over 1,400 players born in the US to determine a ranking of the best NHL stars. We’ve then calculated how many of these were born in each state.


Known as ‘The State of Hockey’, it will come as no surprise that Minnesota has produced the most NHL players — 304 of them, to be precise. In particular, Minnesota is the birthplace of Phil Housley, former player and current associate coach of the New York Rangers. Housley is the third-best scoring American-born NHL player, having scored 1,232 points across his career.

Birthstate of 219 NHL players, Massachusetts is in second place. Notable players from the state include former NHL players Jeremy Roenick and Keith Tkachuk, who are in fourth and fifth on the list of best-scoring American NHL athletes.

Michigan is in third place, having produced 192 NHL players. The state is home to the all-time points leader among US-born players, Mike Modano, tallying 1,374 points during his illustrious career.

New York is in fourth, with 139 NHL players having been born here. Patrick Kane is the state’s top-scoring player, coming in second on the list of best-scoring American-born NHL athletes. He’s already achieved a total of 1,276 points across his career — and is still counting.

As is perhaps to be expected given the popularity of the sport here, the Midwest and Northeast are producing the most NHL players. Meanwhile, a lot of the Southern states, such as Tennessee, Kentucky, and Arkansas, haven’t produced a single NHL hockey player.

The true home of hockey: US vs. Canada 

Now, when looking at the Midwest, there is perhaps something to be said for its proximity to our Northern neighbors. There might be something floating in the water down from Canada, as the quality of players from the Great White North is much higher than those from the US in general.

When looking at the top 50 players from each country, the average number of career points of Canadian-born players is 72% more than those of American-born players, much thanks to the legends that are Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier and Gordie Howe — to name just a few.

An extensive list of the best athletes from each state

Some states are producing many superstar athletes, and some are producing just a handful. No matter the quantity, each state has its very own sporting hero(s), but who is the best athlete in the NBA, MLB, NFL and NHL from every state?

Basketball: Charles Barkley
Baseball: Willie Mays
Football: Philip Rivers
Hockey: Nic Dowd

Basketball: Mario Chalmer
Baseball: Curt Schilling
Football: Mark Schlereth
Hockey: Scott Gomez

Basketball: Sean Elliot
Baseball: Ian Kinsler
Football: Randall McDaniel
Hockey: Matthew Tkachuk

Basketball: Glen Rice
Baseball: Brooks Robinson
Football: Willie Loaf
Hockey: n/a

Basketball: James Harden
Baseball: Barry Bonds
Football: Tom Brady
Hockey: Auston Matthews

Basketball: Chauncey Billups
Baseball: Roy Halladay
Football: Calais Campbell
Hockey: Jaccob Slavin

Basketball: Calvin Murphy
Baseball: Roger Connor
Football: Eugene Robins
Hockey: Craig Janney

Basketball: Walt Hazzard
Baseball: Paul Goldschmidt
Football: Luke Petitgout
Hockey: Mark Eaton

Basketball: Artis Gilmore
Baseball: Steve Carlton
Football: Matthew Stafford
Hockey: Shayne Gostisbehere

Basketball: World B. Free
Baseball: Ty Cobb
Football: Cam Newton

Hockey: Mark Mowers
Basketball: Cedric Ceballos
Baseball: Charlie Hough
Football: Matt Blair
Hockey: n/a

Basketball: Luke Ridnour
Baseball: Harmon Killebrew
Football: Wayne Walker
Hockey: Pat Shea

Basketball: Dan Issel
Baseball: Rickey Henderson
Football: Donovan McNabb
Hockey: Chris Chelios

Basketball: Larry Bird
Baseball: Scott Rolen
Football: Rod Woodson
Hockey: John-Michael Liles

Basketball: Harrison Barnes
Baseball: Cap Anson
Football: Kurt Warner
Hockey: Tucker Poolman

Basketball: Alvan Adams
Baseball: Walter Johnson
Football: Barry Sanders
Hockey: n/a

Basketball: Cliff Hagan
Baseball: Pee Wee Reese
Football: Champ Bailey
Hockey: n/a

Basketball: Karl Malone
Baseball: Mel Ott
Football: Peyton Manning
Hockey: Mason Lohrei

Basketball: Duncan Robinson
Baseball: George Gore
Football: John Bunting
Hockey: Brian Dumoulin

Basketball: Sam Cassell
Baseball: Babe Ruth
Football: Stefon Diggs
Hockey: Jeff Brubaker

Basketball: Bill Laimbeer
Baseball: Tim Keefe
Football: Nick Buoniconti
Hockey: Jeremy Roenick

Basketball: George Gervin
Baseball: Charlie Gehringer
Football: Antonio Gates
Hockey: Mike Modano

Basketball: Kevin McHale
Baseball: Paul Molitor
Football: Terrell Suggs
Hockey: Phil Housley

Basketball: Spencer Haywood
Baseball: Chet Lemon
Football: Jerry Rice
Hockey: Mathieu Olivier

Basketball: Bradley Beal
Baseball: Pud Galvin
Football: Justin Smith
Hockey: Pat LaFontaine

Basketball: Mike Lewis
Baseball: Dave McNally
Football: Jerry Kramer
Hockey: Bill Lindsay

Basketball: Bob Boozer
Baseball: Grover Alexander
Football: Mick Tingelhoff
Hockey: Jake Guentzel

Basketball: Ricky Davis
Baseball: Bryce Harper
Football: Steven Jackson
Hockey: Gage Quinney

New Hampshire
Basketball: Matt Bonner
Baseball: Chris Carpenter
Football: Greg Landry
Hockey: Deron Quint

New Jersey
Basketball: Shaquille O’Neal
Baseball: Mike Trout
Football: Joe Flacco
Hockey: Johnny Guadreau

New Mexico
Basketball: Bill Bridges
Baseball: Ralph Kiner
Football: Ronnie Lott
Hockey: n/a

New York
Basketball: Michael Jordan
Baseball: Eddie Collins
Football: Vinny Testaverde
Hockey: Patrick Kane

North Carolina
Basketball: Bob McAdoo
Baseball: Gaylord Perry
Football: Julius Peppers
Hockey: Jared Boll

North Dakota
Basketball: Doug McDermott
Baseball: Darin Erstad
Football: Gary Larsen
Hockey: Paul Gaustad

Basketball: LeBron James
Baseball: Cy Young
Football: Russell Wilson
Hockey: Bryan Smolinski

Basketball: Blake Griffin
Baseball: Mickey Mantle
Football: Steve Largent
Hockey: Tyler Arnason

Basketball: Mike Newlin
Baseball: Mickey Lolich
Football: Ndamukong Suh
Hockey: Jere Gillis

Basketball: Wilt Chamberlain
Baseball: Honus Wagner
Football: Matt Ryan
Hockey: Vincent Trocheck

Rhode Island
Basketball: Marvin Barnes
Baseball: Nap Lajoie
Football: Gerry Philbin
Hockey: Bryan Berard

South Carolina
Basketball: Alex English
Baseball: Willie Randolph
Football: John Abraham
Hockey: Ryan Hartman

South Dakota
Basketball: Mike Miller
Baseball: Mark Ellis
Football: John Dutton
Hockey: Walker Duehr

Basketball: Oscar Robertson
Baseball: Mookie Betts
Football: Reggie White
Hockey: n/a

Basketball: LaMarcus Aldridge
Baseball: Tris Speaker
Football: Von Miller
Hockey: Brian Leetch

Basketball: Tom Chambers
Baseball: Bruce Hurst
Football: Steve Young
Hockey: Steve Konowalchuk

Basketball: n/a
Baseball: Carlton Fisk
Football: Steve Wisniewski
Hockey: John LeClair

Basketball: Allen Iverson
Baseball: Justin Verlander
Football: Ronde Barber
Hockey: Eric Weinrich

Basketball: Zach LaVine
Baseball: Ron Santo
Football: John Elway
Hockey: T.J Oshie

West Virginia
Basketball: Jerry West
Baseball: George Brett
Football: Randy Moss
Hockey: n/a

Basketball: Latrell Sprewell
Baseball: Kid Nichols
Football: Mike Webster
Hockey: Joe Pavelski

Basketball: James Johnson
Baseball: Dick Ellsworth
Football: Boyd Dowler
Hockey: n/a

Methodology and SourcesTo determine which states are producing the most professional athletes, Betway pulled together a seed list of professional players across the NBA/ABA, MLB, NFL, and NHL.

For the NBA and ABA, athletes were ranked based on their points scored (PTS) and points scored per game (PTS per game).
For the MLB, athletes were ranked based on their wins above replacement (WAR) figures.
For the NFL, the athletes were ranked based on their weighted approximate value (wAV).
For the NHL, athletes were ranked based on their points scored (PTS).

Betway then used these rankings to determine the number of professional athletes who were born in each state, for each sport and in total.

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