PREGNANCY, divorce and knickerless partying have made Britney Spears the most popular Yahoo search in the world for the fifth time in six years. The star, who turned 25 last weekend, gave birth to second son Jayden James in September, only to announce she was ditching his father, rapper Kevin Federline, two months later. In recent weeks she has whipped up an internet storm after being photographed climbing in and out of cars sans pants, on nights out with hotel heiress Paris Hilton. Spears’ new best friend only managed fifth place in Yahoo’s Buzz Index list of the most searched-for terms in 2006.
And Hollywood starlet Lindsay Lohan, who joined the blonde pair on several nights out, came in 10th spot. Buzz spokeswoman Cathi Early said Spears would have won even without her recent late-night antics.
“It’s not a surprise,” she said.
“There is a definite fascination with her private life.”
The most searched-for news story was the demise of Australia’s crocodile hunter Steve Irwin at the hands of a stingray, while the shock death of Anna Nicole Smith’s son Daniel was in second place.
Both these stories generate more online interest than the Iraq War, the Lebanon crisis and the US mid-term elections.
In a year which saw a string of super-famous couples introduce their spawn to the world, the most searched-for celebrity baby was Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes’ daughter Suri.
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s tot Shiloh, whose birth was dubbed “the most eagerly-awaited since Jesus”, had to settle for second place. Suri probably snatched the title because her parents kept her under wraps for five months after her birth in April, Ms Early said, driving speculation about the little girl to fever pitch – and earning her the nickname “the Loch Ness Monster of the celebrity world,” Spears’ older son Sean Preston and his little brother were at three and four, while rock stars Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale’s young one, Kingston, was at number five.
After the controversy surrounding Madonna’s adoption of a Malawian boy, toddler David Banda was the sixth most popular celebrity baby, followed by Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin’s second child, Moses. “This is a very 2006 phenomenon,” Ms Early said. “There is this absolute fascination with celebrity babies this year.” In the world of sport, Manchester United and Arsenal were among only three football teams to make the top ten, coming in fifth and sixth respectively. Real Madrid were at number nine in a list dominated by American Football and baseball teams.
The most searched-for World Cup player was Ronaldinho, who beat David Beckham into second place. Wayne Rooney was at number 10. In the overall top 10 searches, World Wrestling Entertainment came in second, followed by singers Shakira and Jessica Simpson. When it came to movies, the most searched-for picture was Spider-Man 3 – which is not even released until next year.