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US States That Have Produced the Most MVPs

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Springtime is one of the busiest periods on the professional sports calendar each year. Opening day for the 2022 Major League Baseball season fell on April 7.

The National Basketball Association and National Hockey League both end their regular seasons in late April and early May.

While football fans have to wait until the fall for their teams to retake the field, many pro football obsessives eagerly anticipate the next generation of players entering the league with April’s National Football League draft.

US Sports Draws International Talent

This exciting time for fans of the “Big Four” sports in the US is increasingly becoming a worldwide phenomenon as the leagues attract more top-end international talent.

Reigning American League MVP and Japan native Shohei Ohtani has revolutionized the MLB as one of the first players in generations to achieve success simultaneously as a pitcher, hitter, and fielder. And many of baseball’s other top stars, including recent MVPs like Jose Abreu and Jose Altuve, hail from Latin America. 

The last three NBA MVP awards have gone to international players. Two awards are for Greece’s Giannis Antetokounmpo and one for Serbia’s Nikola Jokic. And a fourth looks likely, with Antetokounmpo, Jokic, and Cameroon’s Joel Embiid being the frontrunners for this year’s award.

The NHL has long drawn a large portion of its player pool from Canada and Europe in addition to the US. And even the NFL — which has only around 3% international players — has been attempting to inspire more global interest by playing regular-season games in the UK, Mexico, and Germany.

Despite recent growth of the Big Four sports’ international talent pool, international players still represent a small share of MVP award winners historically. The US has produced 70% of all MVP award recipients, while Canada is responsible for 20.6% of winners, and all other countries combined have produced 9.4%.

Only 15 countries outside of Canada and the US have ever produced MVPs.

Nearly 10% of all MVP awards have been won by athletes from countries other than the US and Canada

States Creating the Most MVPs

For now, the US remains the leading producer of top-end talent in its major sports leagues. But there is geographical variation with some states are far ahead of the pack.

In particular, California has been a hotbed for MVPs, with 47 all-time winners, nearly half of which (21) have been awarded since the year 2000. California’s recent dominance in MVPs has been fueled by all-time greats like the MLB’s Barry Bonds (7 total MVP awards) and the NFL’s Aaron Rodgers (4) and Tom Brady (3).

California-born athletes have won a growing share of MVP awards in the last 20 years

In fact, California alone has produced more than 10% of all Big Four MVP winners in history. California and many of the other leading states are among the US leaders in population, which increases the number of top athletes who may emerge from those states.

But one state stands out for punching above its weight: Louisiana. Despite being in the middle of the pack for US population, the Bayou State has produced 19 MVP awards from nine unique winners. These include 10 NBA MVPs, second only to New York’s 13, and eight NFL MVPs, behind only California’s 12.

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California-born athletes have won more than 10% of all MVP awards

Researchers ranked US states and territories according to the total number of MVP awards won by Big Four athletes born in each location.

All NFL MVP awards issued since the NFL/AFL merger agreement in 1966–67 were included; all NBA MVP and NHL Hart Memorial Trophy winners were included; and all of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America’s Most Valuable Player award winners in MLB’s AL and NL were included.

In the event of a tie, the location with the greater number of unique MVP award winners was ranked higher, and recency was also factored in.

The US States That Have Born the Most MVPs

Here are the states that have born the most MVPs.

Charleston, SC
Photo Credit: f11photo / Shutterstock

20. South Carolina

  • Total MVP awards: 4
  • Different MVP award winners: 4
  • Total NFL MVPs: 0
  • Total NBA MVPs: 1
  • Total MLB MVPs: 3
  • Total NHL MVPs: 0
  • Most recent award: 2003

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Indianapolis, Indiana
Photo Credit: Sean Pavone / Shutterstock

19. Indiana

  • Total MVP awards: 5
  • Different MVP award winners: 3
  • Total NFL MVPs: 0
  • Total NBA MVPs: 3
  • Total MLB MVPs: 2
  • Total NHL MVPs: 0
  • Most recent award: 1985
Jackson, Mississippi
Photo Credit: Sean Pavone / Shutterstock

18. Mississippi

  • Total MVP awards: 5
  • Different MVP award winners: 3
  • Total NFL MVPs: 4
  • Total NBA MVPs: 0
  • Total MLB MVPs: 1
  • Total NHL MVPs: 0
  • Most recent award: 2003
Oklahoma City, OK
Photo Credit: Sean Pavone / Shutterstock

17. Oklahoma

  • Total MVP awards: 6
  • Different MVP award winners: 3
  • Total NFL MVPs: 0
  • Total NBA MVPs: 0
  • Total MLB MVPs: 6
  • Total NHL MVPs: 0
  • Most recent award: 1979
Baltimore, MD
Photo Credit: f11photo / Shutterstock

16. Maryland

  • Total MVP awards: 6
  • Different MVP award winners: 3
  • Total NFL MVPs: 0
  • Total NBA MVPs: 0
  • Total MLB MVPs: 6
  • Total NHL MVPs: 0
  • Most recent award: 1991
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Photo Credit: Sean Pavone / Shutterstock

15. Puerto Rico

  • Total MVP awards: 6
  • Different MVP award winners: 5
  • Total NFL MVPs: 0
  • Total NBA MVPs: 0
  • Total MLB MVPs: 6
  • Total NHL MVPs: 0
  • Most recent award: 1999
Atlanta, Georgia
Photo Credit: Sean Pavone / Shutterstock

14. Georgia

  • Total MVP awards: 6
  • Different MVP award winners: 5
  • Total NFL MVPs: 1
  • Total NBA MVPs: 0
  • Total MLB MVPs: 5
  • Total NHL MVPs: 0
  • Most recent award: 2015
Richmond, Virginia
Photo Credit: Sean Pavone / Shutterstock

13. Virginia

  • Total MVP awards: 7
  • Different MVP award winners: 5
  • Total NFL MVPs: 2
  • Total NBA MVPs: 4
  • Total MLB MVPs: 1
  • Total NHL MVPs: 0
  • Most recent award: 2011
Jersey City, NJ
Photo Credit: Mihai_Andritoiu / Shutterstock

12. New Jersey

  • Total MVP awards: 7
  • Different MVP award winners: 5
  • Total NFL MVPs: 1
  • Total NBA MVPs: 1
  • Total MLB MVPs: 5
  • Total NHL MVPs: 0
  • Most recent award: 2019
Birmingham, AL
Photo Credit: Sean Pavone / Shutterstock

11. Alabama

  • Total MVP awards: 7
  • Different MVP award winners: 6
  • Total NFL MVPs: 1
  • Total NBA MVPs: 1
  • Total MLB MVPs: 5
  • Total NHL MVPs: 0
  • Most recent award: 1992
Detroit, MI
Photo Credit: f11photo / Shutterstock

10. Michigan

  • Total MVP awards: 8
  • Different MVP award winners: 5
  • Total NFL MVPs: 1
  • Total NBA MVPs: 3
  • Total MLB MVPs: 4
  • Total NHL MVPs: 0
  • Most recent award: 1989
St Louis, MO
Photo Credit: picsbyst / Shutterstock

9. Missouri

  • Total MVP awards: 9
  • Different MVP award winners: 6
  • Total NFL MVPs: 0
  • Total NBA MVPs: 0
  • Total MLB MVPs: 9
  • Total NHL MVPs: 0
  • Most recent award: 2006
Tampa, FL
Photo Credit: Henryk Sadura / Shutterstock

8. Florida

  • Total MVP awards: 9
  • Different MVP award winners: 9
  • Total NFL MVPs: 2
  • Total NBA MVPs: 1
  • Total MLB MVPs: 6
  • Total NHL MVPs: 0
  • Most recent award: 2019
Chicago, IL
Photo Credit: f11photo / Shutterstock

7. Illinois

  • Total MVP awards: 10
  • Different MVP award winners: 9
  • Total NFL MVPs: 2
  • Total NBA MVPs: 1
  • Total MLB MVPs: 7
  • Total NHL MVPs: 0
  • Most recent award: 2010
Dallas, Texas
Photo Credit: CK Foto / Shutterstock

6. Texas

  • Total MVP awards: 14
  • Different MVP award winners: 11
  • Total NFL MVPs: 6
  • Total NBA MVPs: 0
  • Total MLB MVPs: 8
  • Total NHL MVPs: 0
  • Most recent award: 2018
Cincinnati, OH
Photo Credit: Rudy Balasko / Shutterstock

5. Ohio

  • Total MVP awards: 15
  • Different MVP award winners: 9
  • Total NFL MVPs: 1
  • Total NBA MVPs: 6
  • Total MLB MVPs: 8
  • Total NHL MVPs: 0
  • Most recent award: 2015
New Orleans, LA
Photo Credit: Sean Pavone / Shutterstock

4. Louisiana

  • Total MVP awards: 19
  • Different MVP award winners: 9
  • Total NFL MVPs: 8
  • Total NBA MVPs: 10
  • Total MLB MVPs: 1
  • Total NHL MVPs: 0
  • Most recent award: 2013
Pittsburgh, PA
Photo Credit: AevanStock / Shutterstock

3. Pennsylvania

  • Total MVP awards: 26
  • Different MVP award winners: 18
  • Total NFL MVPs: 7
  • Total NBA MVPs: 5
  • Total MLB MVPs: 14
  • Total NHL MVPs: 0
  • Most recent award: 2016
New York, NY
Photo Credit: Lukas Uher / Shutterstock

2. New York

  • Total MVP awards: 29
  • Different MVP award winners: 17
  • Total NFL MVPs: 1
  • Total NBA MVPs: 13
  • Total MLB MVPs: 13
  • Total NHL MVPs: 2
  • Most recent award: 2015
San Francisco, California
Featured image credit: yhelfman / Shutterstock

1. California

  • Total MVP awards: 47
  • Different MVP award winners: 33
  • Total NFL MVPs: 12
  • Total NBA MVPs: 3
  • Total MLB MVPs: 32
  • Total NHL MVPs: 0
  • Most recent award: 2021

Detailed Findings & Methodology

Researchers ranked US states and territories according to the total number of MVP awards won by “Big Four” athletes born in each location.

All NFL MVP awards issued since the NFL/AFL merger agreement in 1966–67 were included; all NBA MVP and NHL Hart Memorial Trophy winners were included; and all of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America’s Most Valuable Player award winners in MLB’s AL and NL were included.

In the event of a tie, the location with the greater number of unique MVP award winners was ranked higher. Further ties were broken by the location to receive the most recent MVP award.

The data was sourced from pro-football-reference.com, basketball-reference.com, baseball-reference.com, and hockey-reference.com.

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By Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer specializing in technology, business, and film/television. You can see his writing on low-budget and weird film at Psychotronic Review — and many other places.

Contact Frank with thoughts, questions, and story ideas at [email protected]

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