Babe Ruth, Derek Jeter, Michael Jordan, Walter Payton, Larry Bird, Frank Thomas, and Jack Nicklaus.  These are just some of the great athletes of all time.  Everyone has their own idea of the "Mount Rushmore of Athletes."  But let's face it:  There are so many legends to choose from.  So why not pick the favorites?  That's exactly what states across the country did. really researched the "most successful and prodigious athletes of all time."  The group found the most searched athletes on Wikipedia in order to reveal the most popular sporting legends from each state.  Their research was also based on the location of each athlete’s home state. found that 60% of states' most popular athlete is either a football or basketball player.

South Dakota is widely known for its competitive basketball, football, and golf athletes.  However, the "Hometown Hero" does not compete in any of these sports.  You have to go the extra mile to think about this one.

Hot 104.7 - KKLS-FM logo
Get our free mobile app

Based on this data from, the most popular athlete in the state of South Dakota is...Olympian Billy Mills.

I know what some individuals are thinking.  Who in the world is Billy Mills?  Well for starters, he is a world-renowned distance runner.  According to Indian Youth, Billy is an Oglala Lakota who grew up on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.  In the 1964 Toyko Olympics, he won a gold medal in the 10,000-meter run!  Apparently, no one really knew who he was when he pulled off one of the "greatest Olympic upsets."

The most popular athletes in other Midwest states vary between basketball and football athletes:

  • Minnesota: Kevin Garnett (Basketball)
  • Iowa: Kurt Warner (Football)
  • Nebraska: Gale Sayers (Football)
  • Wisconsin: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Basketball)
  • Illinois: Dwyane Wade (Basketball)

Who is your favorite athlete?  Do you agree with South Dakota's pick?

Three of The Best Burgers In South Dakota Are In Sioux Falls

More From Hot 104.7 - KKLS-FM