Where to Live for the Best Odds of Going Pro

Date IconLast Updated: Oct 26th, 2023
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Where to Live for the Best Odds of Going Pro
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Every year, millions of people across the country dream of going pro in their favorite sport, whether it be football, basketball or baseball. But is everyone really given an equal chance of making it in his or her chosen discipline?

We’ve analyzed the rate of professional sportspeople in each state, to reveal regions that boast the strongest odds of going pro. Read on to see where your state ranks for each sport!

Your Odds of Joining the NFL

Taking top spot as the state with the highest rate of NFL players, we have the Pelican State of Louisiana, with almost 5 pro football players per 1,000 male births – that’s 141 in total! Curiously, however, Texas and Florida boast more pros when we look at the overall number, though their birth rate is considerably higher.

Following, Alabama locals have the second-best odds of becoming a pro football player, with 4.24 NFL athletes per 1,000 births, ahead of Mississippi (3.64), Iowa (3.2) and South Carolina (2.94).

Your Odds of Joining the NBA

With over 1.3 NBA players per 1,000 male births, Kentucky is the place to grow up if you want an NBA career. In fact, no other state has a rate above 1-in-1,000, with North Carolina coming closest (0.75), ahead of Kansas (0.69), Washington (0.45) and Arizona (0.36).

However, North Carolina actually has the strongest portfolio of NBA athletes (45), with Kentucky placing second with 34 ahead of California (32).  

Your Odds of Joining the NHL

According to our research, babies born in Minnesota are the likeliest to grow up and become NHL stars, with 1.83 per 1,000 taking to the ice professionally. The North Star State also ranks top for the number of major league hockey athletes, with an incredible 59 on the current roster – ahead of Michigan (38) and Massachusetts (32).

Per capita, Massachusetts registers 0.93 NHL players per 1,000 births, followed by New Hampshire (0.79), Michigan (0.72) and Wisconsin (0.36). 

Your Odds of Joining MLB

No state boasts more professional baseball players per capita than Pennsylvania, with a significant 1.7 MLB athletes per 1,000 births. This places the Keystone State above Massachusetts (1.3), while Illinois (1.21), Missouri (1.21) and Ohio (1.16) round out our top five. 

When it comes to total number of professionals, however, no state tops California, with 216 locals playing in the major leagues – almost twice the number of Pennsylvanians (113) and over 100 more than in Texas (100) and New York (91). 

Your Odds of Becoming a Soccer Pro

A sport that’s been on an upwards trajectory for a number of years, soccer stars typically grow up in Rhode Island or New Hampshire, with 3.44 and 3.01 athletes per 1,000 in each respective state. 

They’re not the only states with more than 1-in-1,000 making it pro, though, and are joined at the top by Oregon (1.12), Connecticut (1.12) and Nebraska (1.06). 

Your Odds of Becoming a Golf Pro

Ranking each state, you have the strongest odds of becoming a professional golfer if you live in Rhode Island, with 1.91 out of every 1,000 people making the cut. Taking second, we have Alabama ahead of Mississippi (1.14), Kentucky (1.03) and South Carolina (0.98). 

Your Odds of Becoming a Pro Boxer

Because boxing is a wholly individual sport, there are relatively few boxing professionals among the general population – especially when compared to the NFL and NBA. 

However, to increase your odds of raising the next Muhammad Ali, consider moving to Rhode Island, which records 0.19 pros per 1,000 births. This might not seem a lot, but it’s over twice the rate of fighters coming out of Nebraska (0.08) and Louisiana (0.07), and over three times that of New Jersey (0.06) and Michigan (0.06). 

Your Odds of Becoming an Olympian 

For many, the Olympics is the pinnacle of sport, so any advantage is welcome for would-be athletes hoping to reach the world stage. Reviewing our data, the odds are firmly in favor of New Hampshire residents, with 1.9 out of every 1,000 children growing up to compete at the games. 

Next up, we have Rhode Island (0.96), Colorado (0.92) and Minnesota (0.78), while Massachusetts (0.75) rounds out our top five Olympian states.  

Your Odds of Becoming a Tennis Pro

When it comes to tennis, no state tops Rhode Island for its record of producing pros, with each newborn given a 0.38-in-1,000 chance of making it. 

Vermont (0.37) and Wyoming (0.32) aren’t far behind, though, while North Dakota (0.2) and Delaware (0.19) round out the top five. 

Which States Produce the Most Pro Athletes?

Analyzing each state according to the number of professional athletes it produces across all sports and disciplines, Rhode Island is the state to beat.

In fact, just short of 9-in-1,000 people from Rhode Island will become a professional sportsperson – that’s almost 1% of the local population! 

Next up, Louisiana and Alabama boast a rate of 7.63 and 7.54 people per 1,000, ahead of New Hampshire (7.45) and Mississippi (6.71), while the likes of California (3.34), New York (3.01) and Texas (2.98) sit towards the bottom of the list.

Reviewing our data, it’s interesting to see which states truly have the advantage when it comes to producing professional athletes – and which need to pick up the pace! For even more interesting insight from our team of sports betting experts, head on over to our blog.  


To calculate the odds of males going pro across all nine sports, the total number of current professional athletes from every state was divided by the total number of male births in the past year.