The most-followed AFL player on Instagram is Bulldog's young-gun, Bailey Smith.
Until mid 2021, Richmond superstar Dustin Martin was the most-followed AFL player on Instagram.
But the Tiger King has been dethroned by a kid nearly 10 years younger than him.
So, who’s the new top dog? It’s Western Bulldogs midfielder Bailey Smith or @bazlenka.
|Bailey Smith||Western Bulldogs||355,000|
|Gary Ablett Jr||Geelong||205,000|
Age: December 7, 2000 (21-years old)
Club: Western Bulldogs
Draft: 2018 AFL Draft, Western Bulldogs (Pick 7)
Debut: Round 1, 2019 (Western Bulldogs v Sydney)
When it comes to his Instagram popularity, Bailey Smith is known for posting pics of his shredded rig, which has caught the eye of many young female and male fans.
In fact, Smith said he’s stopped reading his DMs due to the craziness. “I’m even getting these now, this man sent a screenshot of his bank account, $50,000 to sleep with this person. It doesn’t stop going. Then I’ve had the stock standard offers.”
Smith’s most recognisable trait is his long flowing blonde mullet. “I’m just growing it out. I’ve been growing it for like 3 years. I know it’s a bit ridiculous but it’s getting there.”
Long hair or not, former Bulldogs’ Captain Easton Wood said fan reaction to Smith is unlike anything he’s ever witnessed. “The reaction to him is just insane.
“After the Grand Final there were just rings of people around him waiting to get a photo with him.”
It seems Smith is cashing-in on his profile securing lucrative deals with Kayo, Cotton On, Monster Energy and Telstra amongst others.
He recently used some of that cash to buy his first home, a 1.8 million dollar ‘renovated Victorian’ in Melbourne’s southeast suburbs.
It’s the 2021 Semi-Final against Brisbane, and Smith kicks a clutch goal with only 2 minutes remaining in the game. He then proceeds to imitate NBA All-Star, D’Angelo Russell with the ‘Ice in the veins’ celebration - as in ‘being cool in a clutch situation.
Many initially thought this was a political statement about COVID-19 vaccinations until Smith cleared it up post-game.
Last September, Smith was the victim of a doctored picture with his junk out.
“There was a fake nude of me that got shared around Australia.This was like the day of the Grand Final, the biggest game of my life, and I get showed this photo by the boys. They knew it was photoshopped… it was weird.”
The Melbourne Demons defeated Smith’s Bulldogs by 74 points in the 2021 AFL Grand Final. Played in Perth on September 25, Smith had a serviceable game recording 26 disposals and 0 goals. The Bulldogs are tipped to bounce back in AFL Season 2022.
Smith admits that he’s struggled with eating disorders, panic attacks, sleepless nights and anxiety. In December 2021, he took a week-long leave of absence from Western Bulldogs pre-season training to deal with personal issues.
While Smith is popular in Australia, his follower numbers are miniscule by global sporting superstar standards.
Here are the most popular athletes in the world by number of Instagram followers.