Bolt, who is aiming to complete a unique triple hat-trick of sprint gold medals in Brazil this month, was voted top of the pile by a panel of leading sports industry thinkers.
Neymar, the Barcelona superstar and poster boy of the host nation’s fancied football team, is second, with men’s tennis world No1 Novak Djokovic in third place.
Wimbledon champion Andy Murray is one of three Britons in the top 10, along with London 2012 golden girl Jessica Ennis-Hill and cyclist Bradley Wiggins, bidding to become the country’s most decorated Olympian.
Athletics, which features perhaps the most iconic moments from the Games, has the most representatives, with 15, followed by tennis, on six.
The 15 American sportsmen and women is the most entries of any nation, followed by Great Britain’s 11.
Other Team GB stars to make the list include double gold winner Mo Farah, Masters champion Danny Willett, three-time Tour de France king Chris Froome and track cyclist Laura Trott.
The Rio 50 was chosen and ranked by experts from the sports marketing, sponsorship, communications and management industries based on the following criteria: recognition, popularity, performance credentials, potential at Rio, age, value for money, prominence in home market, reach, room in portfolio for more sponsors, and unique backstory.