15.6 Million U.S. Adults Play Fantasy Sports, Nearly Double the Amount from 5 Years Ago

Fantasy footballers are 40 percent more likely than the general public to have eaten frozen pizza in the past seven days

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Actor Michael B. Jordan attends the Microsoft Fantasy Football Draft Party in 2013 / Ben Horton/Getty Images

The often intimidating world of fantasy sports is more accessible than ever as a barrage of sites and apps continue to pop up to assist participants in drafting imaginary teams filled with real-life players and in managing them based on real-world stats.

Yup, there’s now even a voice-controlled app for the Google Home smart speaker that answers your questions about lineups, trades, scores, player analysis and news. “OK, Google! I know nothing about sports, but can you help me win this league?” Probably not, but gradual tech advancements like these have become instrumental in making people more comfortable in joining or staying in this ever-growing fantasy land.

In fact, because of this accessibility, the number of adults playing along has increased from 8.3 million in 2012 to 15.6 million in 2017, according to the latest data from Nielsen Scarborough. That’s nearly double the amount of participants in five years. To put that 15.6 million number in perspective: 6.2 percent of adults in the U.S. now play fantasy sports, primarily fantasy football, as of the end of last year.

Fantasy footballers are more likely to...

Of those 15.6 million people, 12.5 million are fantasy football participants. You may be scratching your head and asking yourself, "Wait, there's more than fantasy football?" Indeed. While it may not be surprising to learn about fantasy leagues for basketball, baseball, hockey, golf and wrestling, there have also been fantasy leagues created over the years for cricket, Congress and stock simulations. Historians have traced fantasy sports back to the 1950s and 1960s long before the advent of the internet and the modern online-style fantasy leagues we all know now, and over time, fantasy football has come out as the clear frontrunner in the fantasy business.

To no one’s surprise, 42 percent of fantasy footballers are young men between the ages of 18 to 34. Recent Nielsen data gives us a better glimpse of the type of people playing fantasy football. They are:

▶︎ 40 percent more likely than the general public to have eaten frozen pizza in the past seven days

▶︎ 47 percent more likely to have done post-graduate work or earned a master’s degree or higher

▶︎ 57 percent more likely to belong to a health club or gym

▶︎ 67 percent more likely to have a household income of $250,000 or more

▶︎ 195 percent more likely to have visited a sports bar in the past 30 days

Why do you play fantasy sports?

Reasons vary. Just look at what our @137pm Twitter followers said:

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