NASCAR driver Danica Patrick is the first of her kind to receive more than 1 million followers on Twitter.
”It just shows what incredible and loyal fans I have,” she told The Associated Press. ”It’s pretty humbling that 1 million people are curious about what I have to say and what I’m doing. I really can’t thank everyone enough for their passion and interest.”
The 31-year old driver, model, and spokesperson hit the mark today right before the Daytona 500, thanking TISSOT, her personal sponsor, for getting her started on Twitter.
She also thanked GoDaddy, her NASCAR sponsor, for letting her be “organic, real and fun” while posting to the social media website.
Patrick tops all other NASCAR drivers on Twitter by 300,000. Juan Pablo Montoya has under 800,000 and six-time champion Jimmie Johnson has 530,000 followers. Patrick’s boyfriend, driver Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. has 126,000 followers.
As far as other female athletes go, Patrick has surpassed Lindsey Vonn, Maria Sharapova, Mia Hamm, and Anna Kournikova for number of Twitter followers. However, Serena Williams still has her beat with 4 million followers and soccer player Alex Morgan is also ahead with 1.3 million.
Though popular with her loyal supporters, Patrick has received rough criticism from many NASCAR fans. In fact, recently, Hall of Famer Richard Petty claimed that they only way Patrick could win a Sprint Cup was if “everbody else stayed home.”
This isn’t the first time the 76-year old has spoken out on Patrick. Last year he said that he just doesn’t think she has the skills.
“She can go fast, and I’ve seen her go fast. She drives the wheels off it when she goes fast…she’s not a race car driver. There’s a difference,” Petty said. “The King always had that stupid saying, but it’s true, ‘Lots of drivers can drive fast, but very few drivers can race.’ Danica has been the perfect example of somebody who can qualify better than what she runs. She can go fast, but she can’t race.”
But, as always, Patrick took the high road, responding politely to reporters, but never biting back. In fact, according to Yahoo News, she always ignores the criticism.
”I always have because I really don’t care,” she said in an interview. ”When somebody says something like that, how can I really take it seriously? So, I really just don’t care.
”It’s partly being conditioned for so long and people saying so many things like that. It comes from being confident in what I can do. Where I’m at, having the support of the people around me, it’s them believing in me. It’s all those little side things.
”And I’ve had plenty of people over the last week come up to me and tell me ‘You are great, you are awesome, you go get ’em girl. Don’t listen to what anybody says about you.’ I actually hear more positive than I do negative about these things.”
Despite having a history-making amount of followers for a NASCAR driver, she adds that people can be really mean on Twitter.
“People say things like ‘I wish you would die,’ because people can be cowardly behind their keyboard and they don’t have to have a face. They don’t have to have human contact with the words they say.”
To find the most successful woman in the history of American open-wheel racing on Twitter, search @DanicaPatrick.
Wow….Thank you fans for caring and being curious enough about me to help reach 1 million followers!!!!
— Danica Patrick (@DanicaPatrick) February 22, 2014
Image via YouTube