The Best Record-Breaking Performance ESPY Award since 2001 to the amateur or professional sportsperson, irrespective of nationality or sport contested, adjudged to have, in a single play, game, or season, completed the best record-breaking (and -setting) performance, irrespective of the nature of the record broken.
Between 2001 and 2004, the award voting panel comprised variously fans; sportswriters and broadcasters, sports executives, and retired sportspersons, termed collectively experts; and ESPN personalities, but balloting thereafter has been undertaken exclusively by fans over the Internet from amongst choices nominated by the ESPN Select Nominating Committee.
Through the 2001 iteration of the ESPY Awards, ceremonies were conducted in February of each year to honor achievements over the previous calendar year; awards presented thereafter are conferred in June and reflect performance from the June previous.
|Year of award||Athlete||Nation of citizenship||Team||Competition, governing body, or league||Sport||Record set||Previous record-holder|
|2001||Pete Sampras||United States||not applicable||ATP Tour||Tennis||Total career men's singles Grand Slam titles (13). This record has since been surpassed by Roger Federer.||Australian Roy Emerson (12)|
|2002||Tiger Woods||United States||not applicable||PGA Tour||Golf||Consecutive men's major championships won (Four—the 2000 U.S. Open, The Open Championship, and PGA Championship and the 2001 Masters Tournament [known as the consecutive Grand Slam])||American Ben Hogan (Three, in 1953)|
|2003||Emmitt Smith||United States||Dallas Cowboys||National Football League (NFL)||American football||Total career NFL rushing yards (17,162 at the close of the league's 2002 season, with 975 tallied therein)||American Walter Payton (16,726, across the 13 seasons between 1975 and 1987, inclusive)|
|2004||Éric Gagné||Canada||Los Angeles Dodgers||Major League Baseball (MLB)||Baseball||Consecutive saves converted in a single MLB regular season (55 across the league's 2003 season)||American Tom Gordon (46, in 1998)|
|2005||Peyton Manning||United States||Indianapolis Colts||National Football League (NFL)||American football||Total single-season NFL passing touchdowns (49 in the league's 2004 season)||American Dan Marino (48 in the 1984 season)|
|2006||Shaun Alexander||United States||Seattle Seahawks||National Football League (NFL)||American football||Total single-season NFL rushing touchdowns (27 in the league's 2005 season)||American Priest Holmes (23, in 2003)|
|2007||LaDainian Tomlinson||United States||San Diego Chargers||National Football League (NFL)||American football||Total single-season NFL rushing touchdowns (28 in the league's 2006 season)||American Shaun Alexander (27, in 2005)|
|2008||Brett Favre||United States||Green Bay Packers||National Football League (NFL)||American football||Total career NFL passing touchdowns (442 at the close of the 2007 season, with 28 tallied therein)||American Dan Marino (420, across the 17 seasons between 1983 and 1999, inclusive)|
|2009||Michael Phelps||United States||Not applicable||Olympic Games||Swimming||Total gold medals achieved at a single Games of the Olympiad (Eight in the 2008 Summer Olympics)||American Mark Spitz (Seven, at the 1972 Summer Olympics)|
|2010||John Isner vs. Nicolas Mahut||United States and France||Not applicable||Wimbledon||Tennis||Longest match in tennis history, lasting 11 hours, 5 minutes; Isner defeated Mahut 70-68 in the fifth set of the 1st round match.||Fabrice Santoro vs. Arnaud Clément 4th round match at the 2004 French Open lasting 6 hours, 33 minutes.|
|2011||Rory McIlroy||Northern Ireland||Not applicable||U.S. Open||Golf||In winning the U.S. Open, McIlroy broke tournament records for the lowest 72-hole score, both in total strokes (268) and in relation to par (−16).||72-hole score (272): Jim Furyk, 2003; Tiger Woods, 2000; Lee Janzen, 1993; Jack Nicklaus, 1980.
To-par (−12): Woods, 2000.
|2012||Drew Brees||United States||New Orleans Saints||National Football League (NFL)||American football||Brees threw for 5,476 yards in 2011-12, breaking the NFL single-season record.||Dan Marino (5,084 yards in 1984)|
|2013||Michael Phelps||United States||Not applicable||Olympic Games||Swimming||Phelps became the most decorated Olympian in history, finishing the London Olympics with a total of 22 medals.||Ukrainian Larisa Latynina (19 medals, 1956–1964, representing the Soviet Union)|
|2014||Peyton Manning||United States||Denver Broncos||National Football League (NFL)||American football||Manning set single-season NFL records for both passing yardage (5,477) and touchdown passes (55) in the 2013 season.||Yardage: Drew Brees (5,476 yards in 2011)
TDs: Tom Brady (50 in 2007)
|2015||Peyton Manning||United States||Denver Broncos||National Football League (NFL)||American football||Manning set the single-season NFL record for career touchdown passes (530 at the end of the 2014 season).||Brett Favre (touchdown passes 1991-2010)|
|2016||Stephen Curry||United States||Golden State Warriors||National Basketball Association (NBA)||Basketball||Curry set the record for most three-point field goals in a season with 402.||Curry had the previous record, 286 in the 2014-15 season.|
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